Almost Turkish Recipes

Garlicy Bulgur Buttons (Sarımsaklı Köfte)

These little delicious buttons are known by a variety of names in different regions of Turkey such as sarımsaklı köfte or fellah köftesi, etc. Along with the name change come a variety of sauces. I am posting the recipe with three different sauces. Whichever sauce you pick, there are must do's when following the recipe: buttons should be small, you really need to press you finger on each one (it holds the sauce), and do not go light on garlic.

for buttons
2 cups of fine bulgur
1/4 cup semolina
1/4 cup white flour
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp pepper paste (if you can find)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups of water

for the tomato sauce1/4 cup olive oil
4-5 medium tomatoes, petite diced (or 2 cans of organic diced tomato)
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp dried mint flakes
for the yogurt sauce
2 cups of yogurt
2 cloves of garlic, minced
for the sour sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp pepper paste
5-6 cloves of garlic
juice of 1 lemon
mint flakes
chopped parsley

black pepper

-In a bowl wet bulgur with 1 cup of warm water. Cover with a clean kitchen towel or a lid and let soak for 10 minutes.
-Add semolina, salt, cumin, black pepper, tomato and pepper paste. Start kneading until semolina and bulgur stick to each other.
-Add flour and keep kneading. Add 1 cup of water in small amounts and knead until the mixture can hold together.
-Take dime size pieces from the mix and roll it in between your palms. Press on top with your index finger. (If it cracks on the sides when you press with your finger, it means you need to knead more) Place buttons on a tray.
-In a big pot, boil approximately 2 liters of water with salt.
-Throw buttons in boiling water. Take them out with a slotted spoon when they come up to surface.

Start preparing for the sauce while cooking buttons.
-For the tomato sauce heat olive oil in a pot.
-Add garlic and mint flakes and stir until fragrant.
-Add diced tomato. Simmer on low until cooked.
-Add chopped parsley after you turn it off.
-If you like sour sauce, heat olive oil in a pan. Stir in garlic and tomato paste (and pepper paste) until cooked. Add mint flakes, black pepper, and lemon juice. Cook for another minute and it's done.
-If you prefer a yogurt sauce, mix well 2 cups of yogurt with minced garlic.
-Serve buttons with the tomato, sour, or yogurt sauce on top, or with both.


  1. What a nice recipe. I would describe these little jewels as small bulgur gnocchi. Very interesting.

  2. I would love these buttons with all 3 sauces. Now if I were in Turkey enjoying them that would be even better:D

  3. These are so cute. Thanks for sharing this recipe for these little buttons, along with an assortment of sauces to go along with them. Another must try.

  4. Anonymous5:43 AM

    What an interesting recipe, I've never come across these before. I love recipes that use lots of garlic too so I'll be trying these.

  5. What a unique recipe, completely unfamiliar to me. They make me think of gnocchi. Adorable and certainly delicious!

  6. Ooo ... cutest li'l buttons *ever* :)

  7. Can you recommend another grain I can use to make this because we do not get bulgur here. I'd love to try this.

  8. Simona- you're right, they are like gnocchi!

    cynthia - I am not sure, but maybe you can make them just with semolina.

  9. Hello there,

    These look delicious! I don't have semolina...could I use corn meal or wheat flour? How can I tell if my bulghur is fine or coarse? Thanks!

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. I read your blog periodically, Burcu and am always amazed at the beautiful cuisine. This one, I will have to try. I have a dinner party coming up soon. I my us it as my entree.

  12. these were fairly easy to make, and very, very good! I didn't have semolina, so I used bread flour instead. Turned out well, I think.

    So glad I stumbled upon your blog; I'm looking forward to trying out more of your recipes!

  13. Anonymous11:36 AM

    The analogy to gnocchi is very accurate. I was feeling lazy one day and actually substituted gnocchi for the bulgur kofte and my Turkish husband couldn't tell the difference. His mother (still in Turkey) now prefers using gnocci.

  14. lillian-Sorry I haven't seen your question before. Fine bulgur is almost as small as millet, maybe even smaller. Coarse bulgur, on the other hand, is half of rice grain.

  15. Anonymous5:52 PM

    This is my favourite dish from my stay in Istanbul. I had a local friend describe the recipe for me and I've been making it in Melbourne ever since.

    My sauce is similar to your sour sauce but with a couple of handfulls of finely chopped, cooked spinach added and rather than cooking, it is served cold and is topped with plain yoghurt - delicious!

    I had been searching for the recipe on the internet and just stumbled across your one - thank you for posting!


  16. thanks for this recipe! I live in Turkey (expat American married to a Turk) and love these kofte but didn't have this recipe until now. Everyone here knows how to make it by 'feel'. The only change I will make is to use a whole head os garlic instead of 5 cloves. Thanks from Sandi in Adana.

  17. Anonymous1:17 PM

    Made these today, they were lovely, we had them with the tomato and yogurt sauces. The quantity of ingredients seemed rather a lot and as I was only cooking for 3 people I halved the recipe. This was ok as they are quite filling - thank you so much for the recipe!

  18. Anonymous4:33 AM

    Great recipe...i know what im cooking tomorrow.