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The 'Food Kitchens' of Turkey
Ağrı Province

With a smattering of history --
and a grrreat! recipe...

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The Regional Food 'Kitchen' of Ağrı Province

The contrast between the regions of Adana
(which we featured in our introduction to Turkish 'food kitchens')
and Ağrı couldn't be starker --
Adana with its 'Garden of Eden' luxuriance,
Ağrı with its wasteland austerity...

Bordering on Iran's foreboding frontier as they do, Ağrı's roads were once linked with the famed İpek Yolu (The Silk Road).
Bitterly cold in winter,
hot and dusty in summer --
the region's climate is just plain awful.

But its magnificent natural and man-made wonders are
at once breathtaking and mysterious.

Foremost, of course, is the volcanically-formed twin-peaked Ararat Dağı (Mt. Ararat)... rising to a height of 17,000 feet,
near the town of Doğubeyazıt.
Here, Nuh'un gemisi (Noah's Ark) came to rest after the great flood --
say the three great religions.

Then there's the İshak Paşa Sarayı (General İshak's Palace),
the eerie 18th century castle of the Çildiroğlu family.
İshak Paşa Çildiroğlu, and his robber-baron family, got rich by exacting tribute from the heavily laden caravans that passed
beneath the castle's walls,
along the then bustling Silk Road.

And the contrast between the food kitchens
of the two provinces is also conspicuous --
Adana with its overflowing cornucopia,
Ağrı with its 'spare' cupboard.
Due to Ağrı's unsuitable climate and paucity of arable land, local vegetable and meat products barely meet the region's needs.

But if you think that means the Turks of Ağrı don't know good food,
you'd better think again.

They perform miracles with what they have...
Ağrı province's best-known dish is sac kavurması (iron-bowl stew) --
a savory mutton ragout, prepared and served in a wok-like pan.

But running a close second in popularity,
especially in the immediate environs of Doğubeyazıt,
is Abdigör Köftesi ('Meet Abdi' ground-meat patty).
This dish, which may have been named after
İshak's father, Çolak Abdi Paşa,
is a variety of içli köfte (stuffed ground-meat patty) --
a small fist-sized delicacy.

İçli köfte -- an oriental original
(Preparation time about one hour, cooking time 10 minutes.)
Ingredients -- makes 30-40 'meat patties'
The köfte's cloak:
1 1/2 kg fine bulgur
500 g lean ground beef
1 small onion
1/2 tsp. red pepper
1/2 tsp. black pepper
l l/2 tsp. salt
2 cups water
The stuffing:
1 kg medium-fat ground meat
1 1/2 kg onions
1/2 cup ground walnuts (300 g)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. red pepper
2 soupspoons of margarine or butter


The köfte stuffing
Sauté the (finely chopped) onions in margarine (or butter).
Add ground meat and salt and continue cooking until mixture
begins to stick to the pan.
Add black pepper, red pepper; mix well and remove from the heat.

Its 'cloak'
  • Either... with food-processor:
    Combine all ingredients in mixer, adding water gradually
    (first use cutting blades, then dough hook).
  • Or... without food-processor:
    Knead all ingredients (except water and flour) thoroughly.
    Continue kneading until the mixture makes a smooth dough.
    Gradually add the water and flour,
    continuing to knead until mixture becomes pasty.
  • Stuffing the köfte
    Take a palm-full of köfte cloak mixture and roll it into a smooth ball.
    Carefully hollow out the center with your finger --
    while turning the ball in your hand.
    Fill the hollow with stuffing mixture,
    then close up and smooth over the cloak (with a wetted hand).

    To cook
    Gently drop the köfte pieces into vigorously boiling water and
    let them cook for 5-10 minutes or until golden brown.
    Drain on kitchen paper before serving hot.
    Note: This dish is sometimes deep-fried, instead of boiled.

    Two varieties of eastern Turkish
    İçli Köfte
    Left click for image enlargement and clarity...

    Thanks to
    Lezzet -- Yöre Yemekleri Ansiklopedisi (Hürriyet Dergisi Grubu)
    for the yummy image...

    Learn Turkish language

  • All about Rakı, Lion's Milk
  • Izmir Regional Food Kitchen
  • Ağri Regional Food Kitchen
  • Adana Regional Food Kitchen
  • Turkish Pizza
  • Recipe -- Aubergine "Tongue Sugar"
  • Turkish Food Glossary, Measurements, Recipes
  • Award-winning Turkish Cookbook -- Honey, what's cooking for dinner?
  • Emre Altuğ -- Celebrity Master Chef?
  • Secrets of the Turkish Kitchen by Angie Mitchell
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