Fellah Köftesi are Turkish bulgur dumplings in a sauce that gets thrown together while the dumplings boil. Translated, it means “peasant’s meatballs,” because these comforting little balls are completely plant-based. It’s a testament to the ingenuity of Turkish cooking, where humble ingredients are turned into nourishing meals.
When I started making eggless fellah koftesi, I had some trouble. My first few batches dissolved and fell apart in the boiling water. But through testing and tweaking, I figured out the perfect recipe, and the make-it or break-it details of the cooking process and now these come out perfectly every time.
Get your water boiling, and let’s unleash the magic of Fellah Köftesi – a dish that will become a treasured family fave in your home, as it has in mine.
🥰Why you are going to adore the ever-loving heck outta this recipe
✊ Vegan AF: Like all of the recipes on my blog, this one is completely vegan. No cholesterol, harm to the environment, and unkindness to animals to be found in these adorable little köftesi!
✅ Tested and Approved Worldwide: Like all of my Turkish recipes, not only have I extensively tweaked this recipe to perfection, but it has also been tested and approved by a team of dedicated recipe testers in kitchens all around the world.
🌾Notable ingredients and substitutions
Fine Bulgur (Bulgur Pilavlık)
Bulgur, a whole grain derived from partially cooked cracked wheat, is a wholesome addition to your diet. This recipe’s texture is best with finely milled bulgur. Save coarse bulgur for making bulgur pilavi and tabouli. There is no great substitute for bulgur in this recipe. Nothing else provides the right chewy texture.
Tatli Biber Salcasi
Tatli biber salcasi, a sweet red pepper paste, infuses dishes with depth and sweetness, thanks to its rich flavors of red peppers. It provides the base flavor in dishes like lahana sarma and Barbunya Pilaki. You can get away with using tomato paste if you don’t have any Turkish pepper paste, or you can use aci biber salcasi if you want to add some spice to this dish.
Dried mint plays a key role in this recipe by subtly infusing the dumplings with its vibrant cool notes, perfectly balancing the other spices. If you don’t have mint, leave it out rather than use a different herb.
Boasting a high protein content and a hearty texture, semolina flour finds its place in various culinary applications, including pasta and bread making. In this recipe, semolina flour contributes to the dumplings’ texture, rendering them pleasingly chewy.
Pul biber are traditional Turkish pepper flakes. Within the sauce, pul biber introduces a subtle heat that beautifully balances the sweetness of the pepper paste. Crushed red pepper flakes can be a suitable alternative if pul biber is unavailable.
*See the recipe card at the bottom of the page for exact quantities, nutritional info, and detailed cooking directions.
🍄Porcini mushroom koftesi
Few mushrooms are as intense as porcini. What I love doing sometimes, is throwing a half cup of dried porcini mushrooms into a blender and turning them into dust. I’ll then knead this mushroom dust into the kofte dough. Then, I will throw sliced oyster mushrooms into the tomato sauce for a deep umami flavor. You should do it too if you love mushrooms!
🌶️Hold onto yer’ hat 🔥
If you are down with spice, swirl a little bit of fermented shatta into the sauce for these koftesi. A little bit goes a long way. If you still want more, serve ‘em up with some pickled green chilies, why don’tcha?
📖 How to make perfect fellah köftesi
Nail this köfte recipe on your first shot by following these step-by-step instructions with important tips. Or you can follow along with the easy-to-print recipe card towards the bottom of this page.
In a spacious bowl, combine the fine bulgur with boiling water. Cover it with a plate and allow it to soak for approximately five minutes until the bulgur becomes soft and pliable.
Mix all-purpose flour, semolina, pepper paste, salt, ground coriander, cumin, and dried mint into the hydrated bulgur. Kneed by hand for 6 minutes, or in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on low speed for 3 minutes until a mostly smooth, stiff dough is formed.
👋 If mixing by hand, occasionally wet your hands with cold water and use gentle palm pressure on the mixture.
Divide the dough into tablespoon-sized portions. Roll them with wet hands into little balls. Create shallow craters at the center using your index finger (they should almost look like small un-filled jam-dot cookies).
💧Keep a bowl of water on hand during the forming, and make sure your hands remain moist throughout the process.
Once all dumplings have been shaped, evenly coat their exteriors with the additional flour, providing a protective layer. The easiest way to do this is to have a small bowl of flour and coat each dumpling one at a time to make sure they retain their shape.
Simultaneously, while crafting the köftes, set a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to a vigorous boil over a high flame. Add a teaspoon of salt to the boiling water.
Cooking the köftes:
Submerge the köftes into the boiling water, allowing them to cook for about 10 minutes or until they effortlessly float to the surface. After the first minute, carefully use a metal spoon to make sure none are sticking to the bottom of the pot.
As the köftes cook, heat olive oil in a spacious pan over medium heat. After 90 seconds, when the oil is hot, add the onions and minced garlic and sauté for about 4 minutes until fragrant.
Finish the sauce:
Stir in diced tomato, pepper paste tomato paste, parsley, water, lemon juice, and salt. Continue sautéing for approximately 8 minutes until the tomatoes begin to break down.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the köftes from the boiling water, and gently stir them into the sauce. Garnish with parsley and mint leaves.
Fellah Köfte goes great alongside a selection of classic Turkish dishes. Start with a vibrant Turkish shakshuka or olive oil braised celery root. During winter, a cup of ezogelin or Turkish yogurt and mint soup make great companions.
- Bulgur prep: Make sure to use fine bulgur, not coarse bulgur in your dough, and make sure it gets covered after mixing in the boiling water so that it hydrates fully.
- Smooth köftes: Remember to keep your hands moist while kneading and forming to prevent sticking, and so that the köftes are formed with smooth surfaces.
- Even Dumpling Size: When forming the dumplings, aim for uniformity in size. I like using a small tablespoon scoop, but you can eye-ball it too. Creating small craters in the center of each dumpling allows them to cook thoroughly, which is sorta the same idea with apple cider donuts.
- Monitor Dumpling Cooking: Keep a close eye on the dumplings while boiling. First, make sure after about a minute that none are sticking to the bottom of the pot. Then, remove them from the water as soon as they float to the surface, typically around the 10-minute mark, so that they don’t become waterlogged.
Yes, you can prepare the dumplings in advance and store them in the refrigerator in a sealed container until you’re ready to cook them. This can be a time-saving option for busy days.
If you can't find tatli biber salcasi, you can substitute it with tomato paste mixed with a bit of sugar to mimic the sweetness. However, sourcing the Turkish paste is recommended for an authentic taste.
Yes, you can freeze the uncooked dumplings. Arrange them on a tray, freeze until solid, and then transfer them to an airtight container or freezer bag for 2-3 months. Cook them directly from frozen when needed.
To store leftover Fellah Köfte, place them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It’s best to enjoy them within 2-3 days for optimal freshness.
🔥 Stovetop Reheating:
Place a non-stick pan over low to medium heat.
Add a touch of water to the pan to prevent sticking.
Carefully place the refrigerated Fellah Köfte in the pan.
Cover with a lid to trap steam and moisture.
Gently heat for 5-7 minutes, turning occasionally, until they’re heated through and regain their delightful texture.
🌟 Microwave Reheating:
Transfer your Fellah Köfte to a microwave-safe plate.
If desired, sprinkle a few drops of water on top to prevent drying out.
Cover the plate with a microwave-safe lid or microwave-safe paper towel.
Heat on medium power (50-70%) for 1-2 minutes, depending on the quantity, or until they are heated to your liking.
Pause and check halfway through, adjusting the time to avoid overheating.
✌️My faves to serve with this dish:
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Fellah Koftesi (Turkish Bulgur dumplings in sauce)
For the sauce:
- ¼ cup fresh mint leaves
- ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves
- In a spacious bowl, combine fine bulgur and boiling water. Cover and let it soak for about 5 minutes until soft.
- Mix semolina, all-purpose flour, pepper paste, ground coriander, cumin, dried mint and salt into the hydrated bulgur.
- Knead by hand for 6 minutes or in a stand mixer on low for 3 minutes until a mostly smooth, stiff dough forms.
- To shape dumplings, divide the dough into tablespoon-sized portions. Roll into small balls with wet hands, creating shallow craters in the center using your index finger.
- Coat each dumpling’s exterior with additional flour to protect them.
- Bring a large pot of water to a vigorous boil and add a teaspoon of salt.
- Submerge the dumplings into the boiling water. Cook for about 10 minutes or until they float, ensuring none stick to the pot.
- While dumplings cook, heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. After 90 seconds, add onions and minced garlic, sautéing for 4 minutes until fragrant.
- Stir in diced tomato, pepper paste, tomato paste, parsley, lemon juice, salt and water. Sauté for about 8 minutes until tomatoes break down.
- Using a slotted spoon, retrieve dumplings from boiling water, stir into the sauce, and garnish with parsley and mint leaves.