On hot summer days, you need light meals that are soothing on one side but also refreshing on the other side. Today’s recipe is a Turkish dish that is perfect for summer as it has it all. Soothing bulgur balls, a flavorful tomato sauce made with fresh ingredients, and refreshing yogurt in two ways – the double yogurt fellah köftesi.
Double Yogurt Fellah Köftesi
Fellah köftesi are bulgur balls with a flavorful tomato sauce. In this version, I combined them with 2 types of yogurt. The bottom layer of the dish consists of a creamy yogurt that is mixed with finely chopped roasted eggplants. On top, the double yogurt fellah köftesi is sprinkled with a light garlicky yogurt sauce. Dried mint and chili flakes give the dish additional flavor. Double yogurt fellah köftesi is warm and cool at the same time and full of different flavors. Just perfect! Did you know that ‘fellah’ is a Middle Eastern farmer? The dish is made with the simple but tasty ingredients that the farmer has, hence the name.
What Is Bulgur?
But what is bulgur actually? Bulgur or boulgour or boulghrour is a cereal food that is common in the East Mediterranean and some regions of the Middle East. It is made of durum wheat grains that are parboiled and cracked. There are different sizes of bulgur available. The roughly cracked grains are used similar to rice to prepare bulgur pilafs. The medium size is used for stuffed vegetables, and the finely cracked bulgur is used for salads and bulgur based köfte dishes. Köfte is basically minced meat. In those dishes, the bulgur is turned into a dough that is similar to minced meat. There are vegetarian dishes like the Turkish ‘Çiğ Köfte’, but also dishes in which the bulgur dough is combined with meat such as the Middle Eastern ‘Kibbeh’.
The Difference Between Bulgur and Couscous
What is the difference between couscous and bulgur? Couscous and bulgur resemble each other at first sight but they are not the same. I will now explain the difference between them. Couscous, a food common to the North African cuisine, is made of semolina that is wettened, rolled up to tiny balls, and dried. It is lighter in color, softer in texture, and less intense in taste compared to bulgur. To cook bulgur, you often just soak it in hot liquid. The authentic method to cook couscous is a mixture between soaking and steaming.
Just like bulgur couscous is also available in different sizes. Fine and medium are the most common sizes. Which one you use depends pretty much on personal preference. The fine one is quicker to steam but becomes mushy as soon as it touches the sauce. Wheat couscous is the most common version, but there is also couscous of other grains available.
Double Yogurt Fellah Köftesi – Simply Delicious
For the double yogurt fellah köftesi, we will make a dough with the bulgur and flavor it with different spices and tomato paste. The cooked balls are bathed in a tomato gravy made of roasted sweet pepper, tomato paste, fresh tomatoes, chili, garlic, parsley, and fresh mint. The two different yogurt sauces complete the dish and add additional flavors and textures. The ingredients of this dish are very simple. but the combination of all the different aromas, different temperatures, and consistencies make it so special! You like Turkish style food? Then check out my recipe for vegan lahmacun and red lentil soup!
Ingredients for about 4 persons:
for the bulgur balls:
- 2 cups bulgur (if you can choose, choose the fine one, also called ‘köftelik’ bulgur)
- 2 cups warm water
- ½ cup semolina
- about 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika powder
- salt (about 11/2 teaspoons)
- 11/2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 medium-size onion
for the sauce:
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 red sweet pepper
- 2 tomatoes
- fresh parsley and mint (about1 hand together)
- salt and pepper
- chili flakes, optional
- for the eggplant yogurt:
- 2 small eggplants
- 200g plain yogurt
for the garlic yogurt:
- 1 clove of garlic
- 100g plain yogurt
- 1 shot of water
- water and salt to cook the bulgur balls
- chili flakes and dry mint to sprinkle the dish
Tip: If you don’t have dry mint at home, you can take some leaves of fresh mint and dry them on low heat in a skillet. Simply place the mint leaves with some space between into to the skillet and dry (not fry!) them from both sites for some seconds. Then, turn off the heat and let them rest in the warm skillet until completely dry and flaky.
- Put your bulgur into a large bowl. When you have only the rough bulgur on hand, you must grind it a little. Otherwise, the dough will not stick together firm enough, and your balls will fall apart when you cook them! Next, pour the water evenly over the bulgur, stir it a little, and let it rest for about 10 minutes until the bulgur has absorbed the liquid.
- While the bulgur is resting, bring a pot of salted water to boil.
- Add the tomato paste and the spices to the bulgur and also add the semolina and the flour. Now knead the bulgur for about 5 minutes.
- Next, grate the (peeled) onion on the fine side of the grater and add it to the bulgur dough. Continue kneading the dough for 5-10 more minutes. The dough is ready when it feels a little moist like minced meat, and you can shape it easily into balls. Before you make all the balls, take one bulgur ball and put it into the pot with boiling water to check if it sticks together. If not, add more flour to the dough and knead it again. If it works, turn off the stove and shape all the balls. The balls should be rather small, similar to a cherry tomato. With your pinky, press a little mold into the center of the ball. It looks better, and the bulgur balls will absorb more of the flavorful tomato gravy.
- While you shape the fellah köftesi, you can roast the sweet pepper and the eggplants directly on the gas stove until burned outside. If you have an electric stove, you can either try to grill them in the oven or fry the whole veggies in a pan with a lid on top until dark from all the sides and cooked inside. Set the roasted veggetables aside and let them cool down before you peel them.
- When you have shaped all the bulgur balls, bring the water to boil again and put them into the boiling water. Cook the fellah köftesi for about 15 minutes on low heat. They are ready as soon as they rise. Place the cooked balls with a skimmer into a bowl and set them aside. Save a bit of the cooking water, you might need it for the sauce!
- While the fellah köftesi are cooking, we will make the tomato sauce. Therefore, remove the skin and the seeds of the roasted pepper. Wash it with cold water to get rid of all the burned skin. Also, peel the 2 tomatoes. Put the tomatoes, the sweet pepper, and the parsley and mint into a blender and blend it.
- Peel the garlic cloves and chop them finely. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the chopped garlic. Fry it for a few seconds, then add the tomato paste. Stir it well and cook everything for about 1 minute. Then, add the tomato and roasted pepper puree that you made before. Cook the sauce for about 5 minutes. Finally, taste it with salt, pepper, and some chili flakes. Turn off the heat, we will finish the dish, when the 2 yogurt sauces are ready.
- For the eggplant yogurt paste, peel the roasted eggplants and chop them finely. Mix the eggplant with 200g of plain yogurt and some salt. The eggplant yogurt is ready!
- For the garlic yogurt, grate 1 garlic clove finely. Then, mix it with 100g of yogurt, a shot of water, and a pinch of salt. The garlic yogurt is ready!
- Now let’s finish the dish! Reheat the tomato sauce and put the fellah köftesi into the sauce. Gently stir the bulgur balls and combine them with the sauce. When the dish is completely hot, turn off the heat. If it is too dry, add some of the cooking water of the bulgur balls!
- On a large plate, spread the roasted eggplant yogurt evenly. Then, put the fellah köftesi on top of it. With a spoon, pour the garlic yogurt over the dish. Finally, sprinkle the double yogurt fellah köftesi with some dried mint and chili flakes. Enjoy!