Turkish meatballs (Köfte) in a tomato sauce

I love the flavours of middle eastern food and have recently started cooking this cuisine more. This is my recipe to Turkish flavoured meatballs in a rich tomato, aubergine and pepper sauce. This recipe requires some effort, but is truly worth the taste. I served the meatballs and tomato sauce on a bed of bulgar wheat, added some tahini yoghurt on top and hummus on the side. I also served this with some fattoush salad (middle eastern crispy bread salad)- recipe here and some roasted cauliflower- recipe here.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

For the meatballs:

  • 500g lamb mince (I used 10% fat lean lamb mince)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • A handful of parsley, including the stalks, finely chopped or blitzed in the food processor
  • A handful coriander, finely chopped or blitzed in the food processor
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • A squirt of ketchup

For the tomato sauce:

  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 red peppers, chopped into cubes
  • 2 aubergines
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 stock cube
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • A squirt of ketchup
  • Small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • Small bunch of coriander, chopped
  • Pomegranate (optional, to serve)
  • Pine nuts, toasted (optional, to serve)
  • Hummus (optional, to serve with)


  1. To make the meatballs, in a pan with a very small amount of olive oil fry the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes until soft.IMG_8176
  2. Then add the onions and garlic along with all the other ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl.IMG_8177
  3. Mix together with your hands (wear some gloves if you don’t like getting your hands dirty).
  4. Once mixed, roll a small amount of mixture into a ball. My mixture formed around 30 meatballs.IMG_8178
  5. In a large frying pan, heat up a little oil. Spread the oil around the whole pan. Then fry the meatballs (I did this in 2 batches).
  6. Keep turning the meatballs over and cook for about 10-15 minutes until cooked all the way through. If you have made large meatballs, use a lid and put on the pan to help cook them a little quicker.
  7. To make the tomato sauce, add a few tsp of olive oil to the pan. Add the onions and garlic and fry for 5-8 minutes until soft.IMG_8179
  8. Then add the red peppers and fry for a few minutes.IMG_8180
  9. Add the 2 cans of tomato sauce. Then get one of the cans and fill it halfway with water- pour this in.
  10. Now add the stock cube, cumin, paprika, chilli powder, sugar and ketchup. Season.
  11. Leave this for about 30 minutes on medium heat to reduce a little. Keep stirring to ensure the sauce does not stick to the pan.
  12. Meanwhile, to make the aubergines soft, prick the aubergines with a knife. Then put into a bowl with a few tsp of water and cover with cling film. Put in the microwave on high heat for about 10 minutes, until soft. Once done mash up the aubergine with a fork.IMG_8181
  13. Add the mashed aubergine to the pan.
  14. Finally return the meatballs to the pan.
  15. Sprinkle with the parsley and coriander.Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

I serve this with bulgar wheat which I made by adding 125g of bulgar wheat to a bowl and covering with 150ml of boiling water mixed with a stock cube. Leave this for 20 minutes in a bowl and cover.

I also added some tahini yoghurt on this, which I made by mixing some plain yoghurt with a few tsp of tahini, one grated garlic clove and some salt and pepper.IMG_8184

Spread hummus on the side and sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts and pomegranate.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

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