Monday, February 20, 2012

Kid Friendly Fast Food, Turkish Style

Do you ever find yourself staring into the depths of your refrigerator at 5:00 p.m. , wondering what on earth to cook for dinner?  This happens to me more times than I care to admit.  Menu planning sounds like a great idea in theory, but I’ve never been able to do it for longer than one week a year.

My favorite Turkish fast food restaurant in Istanbul, a meatball place!
photo credit:

For those busy days when I’m short on time and inspiration, a good default menu for our family is köfte and pilav (meatballs and rice).  Köfte is classic Turkish fast food.  Of course fast food is a relative term since we live in a slow food culture, but I can make this meal in 35-40 minutes.  I start with the rice and make the meatballs while it cooks. 


2 cups white rice
1 TBSP olive oil
1-2 TBSP butter
4 cups of chicken broth (You can use bouillon cubes in a pinch, but it won’t be as good.)
Salt and black pepper to taste

Sautee the rice a few moments in the oil and butter until it is translucent.  Add the chicken broth, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, without stirring, until most of the water is absorbed.  Turn off the heat, fluff with a spoon, and leave covered for 5-10 minutes before serving. 


500 gm ground beef (1 lb.)
2 TBSP chopped onion
2 pieces of dry bread
1 egg
¼ cup water
¼ cup chopped parsley
½ tsp dried mint
¾ tsp cumin
1/8 tsp garlic powder (1 minced clove if you have time)
Salt and pepper to taste

Soak the dry bread in water a few minutes while you put the ground beef, onion, egg, ¼ cup water, chopped parsley and other seasonings into a bowl.  Squeeze the water out of the bread and break it up with your fingers.  Mix and knead the meat mixture a few minutes until it is thoroughly blended. Make flattened finger shaped meatballs with about 2 generous tablespoons of meat for each finger.
Cook the meatballs in a lightly oiled Teflon pan until browned on both sides.  

Serve the meatballs with rice, plain yogurt, and a shepherd’s salad of chopped tomato, cucumber, fresh parsley, and onion, with a lemon juice and olive oil dressing.

Afiyet olsun!  (Bon apetit!)

What’s your favorite quick meal, the one that rescues you on desperate days?


momto8 said...

I never even considered Turkish fast food!! i would love to try these meatballs!

Sara said...

Hi Olive - Thanks for recommending using a Teflon® non-stick pan while making your Kofte recipe. I represent DuPont and it's always a pleasure to see people recommending our products in their recipes.

If you are interested in some recipes or great cookbooks to look at for your blog, drop me an email and I would be glad to help you out! Thanks. Cheers, Sara

Linda said...

Mint, cumin, and garlic... Interesting combination. I don't think I've ever tasted that combination, but your recipe is intriguing, indeed! I really enjoy discovering new flavors from other cultures, so thanks for sharing this.

Be of good cheer,

Alida said...

This sounds like a great meal...I think I may give these a try!

OliveTree said...

Thanks for the offer on recipes and cookbooks Sara!

Linda, Turks use mint in so many interesting ways we never thought of.

us5 said...

yum! the church cook shared a similar recipe a while ago for Greek Burgers; it was a similar meat mixture, and we loved it. soaking that dry bread makes the meat so moist!