Bulgur Meatballs with Squash and Chickpeas in Yoghurt and Mint Sauce 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 recipe calls for fine bulgur wheat. If you can’t get the fine bulgur, perhaps you may blitz the coarse bulgur a couple of times to get the finer version. My bulgur meatballs weren’t as tiny as the traditional ones – and I greatly admire skillful locals making those gorgeous chickpea sized balls in almost no time-, but still very tasty and impressed the family. Next time, I look forward to trying this dish with the chunks of lamb in it. I hope you can give a go to this satisfying, delicious dish.
1 cup dried chickpeas (or 1 can of 400 gr/14 oz chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
1 squash, cut in small chunks
3 cups strained yogurt –( thick and creamy yoghurt, brand Fage works well)
1 teaspoon salt
For the bulgur meatballs:
4 cups fine bulgur
600 g lean minced (ground) meat
1 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon black pepper
For the dried mint sauce
1 tablespoon dried mint
2 tablespoons butter
If you are using dried chickpeas, soak them in plenty of cold water overnight. Drain the chickpeas, put them in a pan with plenty of cold water. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and partially cover the pan. Simmer the chickpeas for about 45 minutes or until tender. Drain the chickpeas in a colander and set them aside. If you are using a can of cooked chickpeas, simply drain its juice and wash the chickpeas in a colander, leave them aside.
To make the bulgur meatballs, combine the chopped onion, bulgur, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and 1 cup of water and put through the food processor twice. Add the ground meat to the mixture and put through the food processor again (it is also possible to knead the mixture by hand, but that requires extra time and effort). Add the egg to the mixture and knead by hand until it is as smooth as bread dough. Prepare the bulgur balls by dipping your hand in water, taking a tiny lump of dough the size of a chickpea and rolling into a ball.
Pour half a liter of water into a heavy pan and bring to the boil. Balance a strainer on top of the pan and place the bulgur balls inside. Cover with a lid and steam for 15 minutes. Remove and place in a large shallow dish to cool.
To prepare the yoghurt sauce, add 5-6 cups of water and bring to the boil and stir in the chunks of squash, season with salt and pepper. Cook the squash for 15-20 minutes, until it starts to get tender. Beat the egg and the strained yogurt (brand Fage works well as it is) in a saucepan, place over a low heat and stir constantly in the same direction. Occasionally add a tablespoonful of the hot water and once the yogurt comes to the boil, combine it with the hot water in the pan.
Just before serving add the bulgur balls and the chickpeas to the mixture and heat through. Do not add the balls before this stage or they will soften and lose their flavor. Check the seasoning and add salt and ground black pepper to your taste.
For the dried mint sauce; melt the butter in a small pan. Remove from the heat, add the dried mint and drizzle over the serving dish. Serve immediately.
© Ozlem Warren