Ozlem Warren – Arap Koftesi

Profile Ozlem Warren LE Mag June 2019

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Spiced Bulgur Balls over garlic yoghurt with spinach – Arap Koftesi, by Ozlem Warren

You can order a signed copy of Ozlem Warren’s debut cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland, at this link, https://www.gbpublishing.co.uk/product-page/ozlem-s-turkish-table-hardback

This is a wonderful regional vegetarian recipe from southern Turkey, perfect for buffets and entertaining and you can also make the bulgur balls ahead of time and keep in the freezer.

Afiyet Olsun,



Arap Koftesi © Ozlem Warren
Arap Koftesi © Ozlem Warren

Recipe type: Vegetarian
Cuisine: Turkish cuisine
Serves: 8 people


  • For the bulgur balls:
  • 340gr/2cups fine bulgur
  • 12fl oz/ 1 ½ cup hot water
  • 2 eggs
  • 45ml/3 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • ½ tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • For the yoghurt and greens sauce:
  • 500gr lambs lettuce or spinach leaves, washed and roughly chopped
  • 500gr/1 ¼ lb strained whole milk yoghurt
  • 2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • For the red pepper flakes and dried mint sauce:
  • 30 gr butter
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (please use ½ tablespoon if you like it less spicy, adjust to your taste)
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint


  1. Rinse the bulgur and place in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the hot water, cover and let the bulgur absorb the water; uncover, mix and let it cool.
  2. Then stir in the eggs, flour, tomato paste, salt, pepper, cumin and red pepper flakes. Have a bowl of cold water near you and knead the mixture well until all combined and smooth.
  3. Sprinkle a little flour on a tray where we will put our bulgur balls (this will help the bulgur balls not to stick together).
  4. Roll the bulgur balls as big as a cherry and place on the tray with flour.
  5. Have boiling water in a large pot, stir in a pinch of salt. Gently drop the bulgur balls in to the pan and let it cook, uncovered, on a medium heat, for 8 minutes or so; once cooked, you will see the bulgur balls rise to the top of the pan. Take out the cooked bulgur balls with a slotted spoon and place on a large plate.
  6. For the yoghurt and greens sauce; mix the garlic with the yoghurt. In a large bowl, combine the garlicy yoghurt with the chopped greens. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. For the red pepper flakes and dried mint sauce; melt the butter in a sauce pan and stir in the red pepper flakes and dried mint (please adjust the spice level to your taste). Gently stir in the bulgur balls and combine well with this sauce.
  8. Serve the sautéed bulgur balls over the garlicy yoghurt with greens, immediately.

© Ozlem Warren