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Çiğ Köfte

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Chee kufta, Turkish çiğ köfte, literally "raw meat patty" is a raw meat dish in Turkish, very similar to kibbeh nayyeh and to a lesser extent to steak tartare. It is made with either beef or lamb, and usually served as an appetizer in both Armenian and Turkish cuisines.


According to lore, çiğ köfte was invented in Urfa at the time of prophet Ibrahim (Abraham). When Nemrud (Nimrod) collected all firewood in Urfa in order to build a monumental execution pyre, the wife of a hunter had to prepare venison raw. She mixed the meat with bulgur, herbs and spices and crushed the mixture with stone implements until it was palatable.

Meat differences

In the beef variant, ground beef is used. Tendons and fat are removed before grinding the beef. Relatively expensive high-quality beef has to be used so that the meat can be safely served raw. London broil or top round are recommended choices for the ground beef.

Since lamb is considered a "clean meat", and popular in Armenian cuisine, it is often used for chee kufta instead of beef. Both Armenians and Turks use chee kufta as a meze (Middle-Eastern appetizer), served almost freezing. The raw meat is not kept overnight and is reserved for special occasions. The lamb used must be deboned, degristled, and trimmed before it is prepared. The lamb is supposed to be butchered, bought, and prepared the very same day to ensure freshness.

With either meat, finely ground bulgur (durum and other wheat) is required. Other ingredients are mild onions, scallions, parsley, and usually green pepper. Variants of the dish may use tomato sauce, Tabasco sauce, and mint leaves. When served, it may be gathered into balls, or in one piece. Crackers or pita bread are sometimes used to consume it.

In Turkey, there are two no-meat versions for vegetarians. In Siverek district of Şanlıurfa, scrambled eggs are used instead of meat. And kısır, a specialty of Gaziantep region[citation needed], although it resembles çiğ köfte in its conception, with more numerous and exclusively non-animal ingredients, is a dish that stands on its own.


Çiğ köfte means 'uncooked köfte'. It can also be written as one word, çiğköfte. It is a favorite Turkish snack and a specialty of southeastern Turkey, especially Şanlıurfa.

Bulgur is kneaded with chopped onions and water until it gets soft. Then tomato and pepper paste, spices and very finely ground beef are added. This absolutely fatless raw mincemeat is treated with spices while kneading the mixture, which is said to "cook" the meat. Lastly, green onions, fresh mint and parsley are mixed in.

One spice that is associated with çiğ köfte, and with Şanlıurfa as a whole, is isot, a very dark, almost blackish paprika, prepared in a special manner, and which is considered as indispensable for an authentically local preparation of çiğ köfte (and also of lahmacun). Although, isot is famous as the special dried pepper that is locally produced by farmers of Şanlıurfa, in fact, it is a general word used for pepper in Şanlıurfa.

A favorite way of eating çiğ köfte is rolled in a lettuce leaf, accompanied with good quantities of ayran to counter-act the burning sensation that this very spicy food will give.

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Chee kufta,

Cig Kofte (Yalanci Cig Kofte),