Almost Turkish Recipes

Bulgur Kofte (Çılbak Köftesi)

Bulgur Kofte is a different version of another traditionally Turkish recipe, garlicy bulgur buttons, from southeastern Turkey. Koftes are usually made with ground meat but this one requires only bulgur, which explains the name: Çılbak Köfte. "Çılbak" means "naked" and "poor," so we can translate the name for this dish as "The Poor Man's Kofte."

These koftes are easy to make and delicious. You can have them with the garlicy yogurt, as well as with different sauces from the garlicy bulgur buttons recipe.

for 4 people
makes approximately 45 koftes

for koftes
1 cup fine bulgur
1 cup hot water
1 cup white flour
1 egg
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp red pepper paste
1 tsp salt

for the sauce
2 cups yogurt
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 tbsp butter or olive oil
1 tsp paprika

-Put bulgur in a big bowl. Add hot water, cover and let it soak for 10 minutes.
-Wet your hands with cold water and knead bulgur for 5 minutes.
-Add egg, salt, tomato and pepper red paste, and mix well with your hands.
-Start adding flour slowly and knead the bulgur dough for 10-15 minutes, until everything is well mixed.
-Take one generous table spoon of the mix and roll between your palms to form a ball, wetting your hands with cold water now and then. Then, squeeze it in one hand to form the fingerprints on an almost oval shape.
-Fill a big pot with water half way through and bring to a boil. Add bulgur koftes, let it boil again, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove koftes with a slotted spoon.
-Beat yogurt with minced garlic with a fork until smooth in a bowl.
-In a small saucepan melt heat butter or olive oil. When it is hot, add paprika and let sizzle for 10-15 seconds. paprika easily burns, so watch out.
-Serve koftes in a deep plate. First pour garlicy yogurt and then sizzling paprika on top.
Simply delicious!

The recipe is from Lezzet Dergisi January 2008 pg 40.


  1. Ohmygosh this sounds like comfort food!! Yum! Will have to find fine bulgur, I've only got the chunky kind.

    I'm loving your recipes, they all look divine!


  2. Yes, this does look delicious. Which do you prefer, the oil or the butter for the paprika oil? Would smoked paprika be good in this? I would really like to make this soon. Thanks.

  3. ssis-that's exactly what it is: comfort food.

    caroline-although a lot of people in Turkey would say butter to this question, I'm totally an olive oil freak, especially if it's a good one.

  4. Anonymous3:15 AM

    this looks yummy but there is a step missing in the directions about how the little lumps are formed. Can anyone give a hint about the wonderful skwunched shape? How much dough goes into each one? thanks

  5. hatwiz-sorry! I must have missed that step. I included it in the instructions.

  6. Anonymous12:46 PM

    Those look fabulous! I really enjoy your blog!

  7. I love the shapes of the koftes. I don't think I have ever seen fine bulgur in the bulk section. Maybe I should look for it in specialty stores.

  8. Anonymous10:18 PM

    in Azerbaijan we say CILPAK, although in contemporary Turkish it is Ciplak,isn't it? My Turkish in-lows always tell me that Azeri Turkish is more oz turkce:))

    This recipe looks delicious. A must try. Your blog is super good! Love all your recipes, really!

  9. Anonymous3:51 AM

    Such a lovely idea Burcu! You know I always buy Turkish bulgur here in Greece, it is the BEST!

  10. Those koftes look fantastic! I'll have to try making them soon. Thanks.

  11. I am very intrigued by this recipe. It will give me the chance to use up my bulgur in the pantry. Bookmarked: thanks!

  12. looks great!

    Is it okey to keep some of them in the fridge and boil them the next day?

  13. Cem, yes, definitely!

  14. Such a great blog you've got here Burcu. And thank you for the quick response.
    I've just tried this recipe, but put half a cup of soy flour instead of one cup of white. The result: the köftes turned out to be a little dense and bland. Do you think the flour swap had something to do with this? And is there a way to make the köftes more tasty by adding some other ingredients, without sacrificing consistency?

  15. Hmm, not sure about density, since I've never cooked with soy flour, yet different types or brands of bulgur might need different amounts of water. This is not a soft, mushy kofte, but it's not supposed to be rock hard either. This is one of the traditional recipes that I didn't play around much. I think blendness is normal; that's why you have the garlicy sauce with paprika. That said, when i make these koftes I use a spicy red pepper paste; and add, depending on my mood and appetite, mint flakes, cumin, parsley and green onions.

  16. oh yes, I will definitely use spicy red pepper paste, parsley and green onions the next time! Thanks for the tip. :)