Recipe: Köfte Kebabs and Garlic Sauce



Meliz Berg’s köfte kebabs and garlic sauce

Words by Liz Skone James

The Sunday Times bestselling author’s new book shares quick and easy recipes full of Turkish-Cypriot deliciousness for every day, like these cheat’s köftes

Meliz Berg Meliz Berg (Photograph by Urszula Sołtys)

Influenced by summer nights, we’re craving Mediterranean fare, and that’s just what’s on offer in the gorgeous new book from self-taught cook and recipe developer Meliz Berg. Inspired by her Turkish-Cypriot heritage, Meliz’s second book, Dinner Tonight (Ebury Press, £22), has just launched. A celebration of flavour and the simple joy of cooking, it’s packed with shortcut versions of some of her most beloved family recipes. Without compromising on authentic flavour, Meliz delivers mouth-watering meals that can be prepped ahead of time, batch-cooked and frozen or ready on the table in 30-minutes or less, like these delicious cheat’s köfte. Meliz says: “These köfte are so juicy and versatile… I bake them in the oven, but you can cook them on the barbecue (ensure the barbecue grills are hot before you place the köfte on them, to prevent them from sticking, and brush them with a little olive oil as they cook) or in the air fryer.”

Prep: 1 hour (plus marinating)
Cook: 20 minutes


Meliz Berg’s köfte kebabs


For the köfte
3 tbsp olive oil | 500g chicken thigh fillets, blitzed in a food processor/500g lamb mince | 1 red onion, coarsely grated or finely chopped in a food processor | 1 large kapya biber (capia pepper), red romano or red bell pepper, halved, deseeded and finely chopped in a food processor | 30g fresh flat leaf parsley, leaves and stalks finely chopped | 4 garlic cloves, finely grated | 1 tsp pul biber (Aleppo pepper/Turkish red pepper flakes) | 1 tsp paprika | 1 tsp coarse black pepper | 1 tsp sea salt flakes | 1 tsp dried mint | 2 tbsp tatlı biber salçası (Turkish sweet (mild) red pepper paste)

For the garlic sauce
1 tsp finely grated garlic | 4 tbsp mayonnaise | 120ml natural yoghurt | 1⁄2 tsp finely chopped parsley | 1 tsp lemon juice | 1⁄4 tsp dried mint | 1⁄4 tsp pul biber (Aleppo pepper/Turkish red pepper flakes) | 1⁄2 tsp sea salt flakes | 1⁄4 tsp coarse black pepper


1. Add 2 tbsp of the olive oil and all the remaining köfte ingredients to a large dish, mix together really well, then refrigerate the mixture for at least an hour, or overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 230C/210C fan/450F/gas mark 8. Line a large, shallow baking tray with parchment paper.
3. Take the köfte mixture out of the fridge, wet your hands with cold water (so that the mixture doesn’t stick to them) and shape into 6 long and even-sized köfte, each around 4 x 18cm (11⁄2 x 7in) in length, directly on the lined baking tray.
4. Using two fingers, gently push down to create indents all along the köfte, ensuring that the köfte keep their shape.
5. Gently brush each köfte with the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil, and place the tray in the oven on the middle rack for 18–20 minutes, or until the köfte are golden brown and cooked through.
6. While the köfte are cooking, prepare your sauce – mix together all the ingredients in a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.
7. Once the köfte are cooked, take them out of the oven and serve immediately with the garlic sauce, some hot and fresh Fluffy Bidda/Bazlama Flatbreads and salad.


Meliz Berg’s köfte kebabs