Bulghur is a type of cereal made from wheat, not too dissimilar to couscous. It is used in the Middle Eastern dish, tabbouleh. Here it is used to make a crust for lamb kofte, which are sausage-shaped meatballs.
- 500 g fine-grade bulghur
- 1 tbsp salt
- pinch of ground pepper
- pinch of sweet paprika
- 350 ml just–boiled water, plus 125 ml–250 ml (½–1 cup) extra
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 500 g lean lamb mince
- 1 large brown onion, finely diced
- 1½ tbsp pine nuts, toasted
- 1½ tbsp currants, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- sunflower oil, for deep-frying
- lemon wedges, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Standing time 2 hours 30 minutes
Place the bulghur in a bowl large enough to hold at least double its volume. Sprinkle over the salt, pepper and paprika, then pour in the 350 ml just-boiled water. Cover tightly with plastic wrap stand for at least 2 hours, or until grains completely absorb the water.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and add a pinch of salt.
Add the mince and cook, stirring to break up any lumps to ensure a crumbly texture, for 10 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper. When most liquid has evaporated and meat is lightly browned, stir in the onion. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring often, for 10–15 minutes, or until onion is soft and translucent. Add the pine nuts, currants and parsley. Season again, remove from the heat and stand until cool.
To make the kofte, knead the bulghur until it resembles fluffy couscous. When there are no lumps, slowly start to knead in the extra hot water a little at a time. You may or may not use all the water.
To ensure the pastry is crisp once cooked, do not add too much water, which will make it heavy and stodgy. This takes at least 20 minutes. (Although it seems like a long time, it is very important as the pastry casing will let this dish shine.) To check if the pastry is ready, roll a golf-size ball and slowly push one finger through the centre, being careful not to pierce through to the other side. Using slightly wet hands, with the ball in one palm and one finger in the middle, push down with your finger to thin out the casing, spinning the ball so you have an even casing. You should end up with one end pointed and an opening on the other end. If the pastry falls apart, you may need to add a little more water and continue kneading.
Using a teaspoon, three-quarters fill a pastry case with lamb mixture. Moisten hands and close opening, shaping kofte to even points on both ends. Repeat with remaining pastry and filling.
Heat sunflower oil in a large saucepan or deep-fryer to 180°C. Make sure oil is not too hot, or kofte will brown before pastry is cooked. Deep-fry kofte, in batches, for 4–5 minutes or until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towel and serve with lemon wedges.