ali usta cig kofte

For those readers who are not familiar with çiğ köfte (raw meatball), it is a fairly simple food made from cracked wheat mixed with raw meat (sometimes) and tomato paste wıth lots of spices. Usually served on lettuce leaves with lemon juice, it is a spicy, crisp, and refreshing consumable with diverse recipes from place to place. Sometimes made with raw beef, chicken, or lamb, most street sellers in Istanbul are serving vegetarian (etsiz) style made from  boiled wheat grains.

The story of çiğ köfte which seems to prevail goes something like this: in the time of Abraham, in the city of Urfa in southern Turkey, lived king Nimrod who had all the available firewood collected to erect a giant execution pyre for Abraham. The people, lacking fuel, proceeded to mash their venison into a paste and mix it with spices to make it palatable. I cannot attest to the accurateness of this story, but its a nice one anyway.

Master Ali sells his çiğ köfte on a small side alley near Kral Kokoreç,  mostly to local workmen and residents. You can purchase portions wrapped in lettuce leaves, rolled into a wrap with lettuce, or plain in a plastic container to bring home and enjoy at your convenience. There are two options: spicy (acılı), and very spicy (çok acılı) and all choices are without meat. Drink lots of ayran with it (salty yogurt drink) to keep your mouth cool. Possibly my favorite place in Sirkeci (5 minutes walk from the Sultanahmet district) to have a quick lunch.


  • Don’t Miss: Extra spicy portion
  • Best Perk: Delicious and fast
  • Average Price: 6tl

In the Alley behind Kral Kokoreç

View Kral Kokorec in a larger map

Twitter Stumbleupon Pinterest Tumblr Reddit

More Reading: