Beef meatballs with sumac and garlicky yoghurt

Beef meatballs with sumac and garlicky yoghurt

Sumaklı köfte

Steven Joyce

There are hundreds of different ways of making meatballs, called köfte, and even more in the countries surrounding Turkey. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to making them – they can even be vegetarian – so feel free to play around with the spicing or to try different meats or pulses. Serve these with flatbreads and a shepherd’s salad. You can easily make them without sumac, if you can’t find it, but it’s readily available in Middle Eastern stores and online.



Quantity Ingredient
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs, plus 1 extra tablespoon if necessary
300g minced beef
1/4 onion, very finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, very finely chopped
1 teaspoon sumac, (optional), plus extra to garnish
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Quick red pepper paste
or 1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
or 2 teaspoons turkish tomato paste or concentrated tomato puree
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
vegetable oil, for deep-frying

Garlicky yoghurt

Quantity Ingredient
175ml plain greek-style or turkish yoghurt
1/2 garlic clove, crushed, (or more)
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped


  1. If the breadcrumbs are fresh, toast them gently in a dry frying pan. Mix the beef with the onion, garlic, parsley, spices, pastes or purée, seasoning and breadcrumbs. Add the egg and mix quickly but thoroughly. If the mixture is very wet, add the extra breadcrumbs and mix again. Divide the mixture into twelve and shape into balls, using your hands.
  2. To make the garlicky yoghurt sauce, mix the yoghurt with all the other ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Keep in the fridge until it is time to serve.
  3. Heat the oil for deep-frying until a cube of day-old bread sizzles and browns in 30 seconds, then turn the heat down to low. Deep-fry the meatballs in batches for 4 minutes each, or until the meat in the centre is cooked through and the outside is a deep golden brown (unless you or your butcher freshly grind the meat, it’s important to ensure it is thoroughly cooked). Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  4. Alternatively flatten into patties and shallow-fry for about 3 minutes on each side until golden and cooked through. Serve straight away, with the yoghurt sauce and sprinkled with a little extra sumac.
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