Ever since I became a vegetarian my cravings for traditional Turkish food have become difficult to ignore. Much to my dismay Turks love meat, which means that often at family gatherings I am left to snack on salad and bread. It’s been a year since I stopped eating meat, and in this time I have figured out how to make all my favourite Turkish food with meat substitutes. This is one of my favourite Turkish treats, because it’s so simple. It’s perfect for sharing too!
¾ of a bag of Quorn or Soy mince (I like Quorn mince because it’s a lot firmer)
2 red onions, finely chopped.
1 table spoon of Red Pepper paste (this is difficult to get hold of in Leeds as there had next to no Turkish markets, however tomato puree will work just fine)
3 cloves of garlic, crushed.
1 chili, chopped.
A handful of parsley, chopped.
1 tablespoon of Paprika.
Salt and Pepper to taste.
2 cups of cracked bulgur (This may be called fine Bulgur depending on which brand you buy). You can find this type of bulgur in any Middle Eastern section of a supermarket.
Half an onion.
3 table spoons of Flour.
1 teaspoon of Chilli powder.
1. Make the filling first, as this will need time to cool down.
2. In a large pan, fry off the Quorn mince on a medium heat, until all is defrosted. Add in the onion, and garlic, continue to stir until the onion and garlic soften.
3. Add in the chilli, paprika, tomato paste and parsley. Stir well so that all is combined. Leave this on the heat, stirring occasionally for about -ten minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Whilst the filling is cool make the dough.
5. Soak the bulgur in half a cup of boiling water. Make sure all of the bulgur is moist.
6. In a food processor, or bowl add in half onion (which you would finely chop if kneading the dough by hand). Then add the bulgur, the tomato
paste, egg, flour, salt and pepper. Knead/process this for several minutes until you get a moist ‘dough’.
7. Grab a handful of the dough and roll into the size of a golf ball. The dough is meant to be sticky, so have some warm water on hand in order to make it easier to shape the dough. With your index finger, or thumb make a dent in the dough. Carry on indenting until you reach the bottom of the ball.
8. Fill the dough with the cooled down filling and seal the ball back up, use warm water as the ‘glue’.
9. Heat a generous amount of olive oil into a large skillet and fry the meatballs evenly, until they are golden brown on all sides.
10. I served these with a Greek yogurt, cucumber and garlic mixture which was perfect for dipping.
(Image: Sumaiya Patel)