Have you ever been on holiday and been tempted to bring back some foodie item simply because you like the look of it or you’ve had it at some little restaurant there and imagine you’re going to recreate the dish at home?
Unusual herbs or spices often fall into this category simply because they’re easy to pack into a suitcase but how many of us, once we’re home, ever use them or even know how to use them? I’m willing to bet that sumac is one of these.
What is sumac?
It’s a shrub or small tree (rhus) which produces reddish or purple berries in the late summer/early autumn. These are picked just before they ripen and left to dry in the sun before being ground into a powder.
Sumac has virtually no aroma but a definite tangy lemony flavour: an essential Middle Eastern ingredient and often added to salads or meats in marinades, spicy rubs or dressings.
Here then is a delicious köfte recipe where you can use it!
The presentation of these sumaklı köfte with the drizzled garlic yogurt and the tart purple sumac with a little chopped parsley scattered around, makes it a very attractive dish: the mingling tastes won’t disappoint!
- Place the mince in a deep bowl and add the finely chopped onion and parsley, the crushed garlic. Mix well.
- Add the spices, break the eggs in and knead the mixture. The more you knead, the better the taste will be. Add the bread crumbs or breadcrumb flour to reach the right consistency.
- Shape the mixture into long finger-shapes and fry in a little oil. NB Refika specifies 2 cm but I used less. Place the cooked köfte on some kitchen paper to absorb excess oil.
For the sauce:
- Add the crushed garlic and salt to the yogurt and mix to a creamy consistency.
- To serve, arrange the meatballs on a dish and drizzle the sauce over the hot köfte.
- Sprinkle with the finely chopped parsley and sumac.
- Serve with salad and rice.
If you are not going to eat them immediately, place the uncooked köfte on a plate and cover with clingfilm. Keep in the fridge till required. They will stay there happily for a couple of days. They also freeze brilliantly.
My other favourite recipe which uses sumac is Purslane salad with walnuts. (Purslane is semizotu in Turkish). The sour tasting sumac is used instead of lemon juice. Try it and see!