Bulgur was never a favorite ingredient for chefs in the Ottoman palace. They preferred white rice over this nutritious cereal, whereas bulgur was a staple food item for the general public in the Ottoman land. Bulgur is simply parboiled, dried and partially de-branned wheat. It is available in most Western countries in natural and organic food stores, some mainstream supermarkets, Turkish, Arab and Greek grocers. It’s high in fiber and protein, makes a wonderful ingredient for a lot of vegetarian dishes.
Fellah Kofte is a widely known recipe in Eastern Mediterranean region of Anatolia in places such as Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Adana, Mersin and Hatay. The recipe calls for fine-ground bulgur, (“#1 Fine Grind” in the U.S. and “koftelik bulgur” in Turkey). It’s easy to make and the outcome is definitely worth the effort.
Ingredients (Serves 4-5):
2 cups of fine grind bulgur
1/2 cup of semolina
1/2 cup of plain flour
2 eggs (optional, substitute with 1/2 cup of semolina and 1 cup of water)
1 small onion, grated
1 cup of hot water
1 teaspoon of cumin (it helps improve digestion)
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of red pepper paste (if not available, substitute w/ tomato paste)
2 teaspoons of salt
A small cup of oil (to be used as a lubricant when kneading and rolling)
3-4 liters of boiling water,
1 teaspoon of salt
4-5 fresh tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
3 tablespoons of olive oil
A pinch of salt
10-12 stalks of fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
2 cups of whipped plain yogurt
Mix everything listed in the first section of the ingredients except for the oil, make it into a dough. Knead until they nicely stick together, for about 7-8 minutes. You might wanna wet your hands with oil prior to kneading, to avoid smudging as much as possible. To test, pick one small piece from the dough and roll it into a ball, press your index finger on top of the ball, if it easily cracks on the sides, you need to knead further.
Once the dough is ready, take baseball size pieces from it and roll them into 2 cm-thick sticks. Cut the sticks into 1 cm-wide disks. We do this to make evenly sized gnocchi. Wet your palm and fingers with oil. Roll each disk into a ball and press one finger in the middle to make them look like little buttons. The cavity will help hold more sauce and thanks to the oil they won’t be sticking together. It should look like this:
In a deep saucepan, boil 3-4 liters of water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the heat to medium-high. Drop half of the buttons – bulgur gnocchi into the boiling water. Boil for 5-8 minutes. They will rise to the surface once cooked. Remove the buttons from water with a slotted spoon. Do the second batch in the same way.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet, add garlic and tomato paste, cook for 2 minutes and then add tomatoes. Cook until it releases all the juices, then reduces and becomes shiny and oily. Add salt. Turn the heat off. Add cooked bulgur gnocchi into this sauce. Divide it into 4-6 plates, top with whipped yogurt and fresh parsley leaves and serve. It can also be served cold as a meze, if you intend to do so, wait until it cools off and then add yogurt and parsley.