Turkish Meatballs in Tomato Sauce (Izmir Köftesi)

A hearty, all in one meal of meatballs, potato, peppers and tomatoes. With simple and well-balanced spices this traditional dish is a classic 'Homemade style' lokanta type of main. Suitable throughout the year but especially good during the summer season when plum tomatoes and sweet & hot peppers are stars of the farmers market.



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Category: Meat 'Et'
Cuisine Type Turkish


Turkish Oven Meatballs

400 Grams Lean mince
0.5 Cup Cornmeal (Approx 1/2 'Çay' glass 'Mısır unu'))
50 Millilitre Milk (1/2 'Çay' glass)
1 Onion, Grated
2 Cloves garlic, minced
1 Egg
0.5 Bunch Parsley, chopped fine

Meatball spices

0.25 Teaspooon Salt
0.25 Teaspoon Black pepper
0.5 Teaspoon Pul biber / Aleppo pepper flakes
0.5 Teaspoon Cumin


2 Large Potatoes, wedges
1 Large Sweet red pepper
4 Large Long green peppers


4 Large Tomatoes grated mixed with 1/2 cup water
1 Cup Handy Homemade Tomato Sauce, mixed with 1 cup water
2 Tablespoons Tomaot paste 'Domates salçası' mixed with 2 cups water

Turkish Meatballs in Tomato Sauce (Izmir Köftesi) Directions

  1. Mix the meatball ingredients minus the egg and kneed for a few minutes.
  2. Add in the spices and egg and combine.
  3. Allow the mixture to rest for at least 15 minutes but ideally 1-2 hours in the fridge.
  4. For full-on flavour make the mince the day before required and rest overnight in the fridge.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  6. Grease or line two oven tray.
  7. Take the mince mixture and divide into walnut-sized balls, the mixture should make around 18 - 20 meatballs.
  8. These can remain as balls or for an authentic dish shape them into finger-shaped meatballs.
  9. Place on the meatballs on one oven tray and the potato wedges on the other.
  10. Bake in the oven for around 15 minutes.
  11. Combine the potatoes and meatballs into one tray or large casserole dish.
  12. Arrange the peppers and add the tomato sauce of choice.
  13. Either:
    A. Grated tomatoes
    B. Handy Tomato sauce
    C. Salça / Tomato paste
  14. A) For the grated tomatoes, place over the top of the tray ingredients and add a half cup of water.
  15. B) Handy tomato sauce can be mixed with a little water and poured on top
  16. C) For salça using the frying pan loosen up the salça in some water and pour over the tray.
  17. Return the meatballs to the oven and bake for a further 30 minutes.

Recipe notes


  • This dish works very well served with raw or sumac seasoned onions and yoghurt.
  • The dish is even more delightful if made a day ahead and warmed up. 
  • The spices used in Turkish oven-baked meatballs vary a lot between Turkish households / lokantas. Personally, I used around 1/4 teaspoon of salt & pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of cumin and red pepper flakes (Aleppo pepper), feel free to adjust this either way to suit your tastebuds.  






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