Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Oruk - Meat and Bulgur Patties
Oruk - Meat and Bulgur Patties:

Before talking about ORUK, let’s first talk about BULGUR, the main ingredient in Oruk and many other Middle Eastern dishes. Bulgur is a form of whole wheat that has been cleaned, parboiled, dried and ground. It is then sifted into distinct sizes. In Turkey, for example, two sizes of bulgur are available. Fine bulgur is used in soups, salads and “koftes.” Oruk is a type of “kofte”.  Coarse bulgur is used in “bulgur pilaf”. Bulgur is a nutritious grain with nutty flavor, rich in fiber and B vitamins, iron, phosphorus and manganese.  It is thus considered a favorable substitute for traditional rice pilafs. 

Based on ancient Hittite tablets and murals, bulgur wheat was cultivated in Mesopotamia -Fertile Crescent area first.  People made a dish similar to kofte, some sort of meat mixed with spices and grains, formed into patties, oven cooked, grilled or steamed.  

Legend goes like this: Fearful King Nemrut gives orders to kill Abraham. He is to be burned at the stake. By king’s orders, everybody is asked to bring all the wood from their houses to the center of the town (today’s Urfa in Turkey) to form the biggest fire. Since people used wood fire to cook in those days, they were not able to cook anything. If smoke was coming out of the chimney of a house, king’s men would punish the family who is burning wood.  A hunter comes back home with a deer and asks his wife to make a dish. Unable to cook the meat, she creates a new dish for her family by mincing the deer meat, adding bulgur and spices to it and forming the mixture into patties. Her family loved the new dish and day named it “kofte”.  The irony is that we have to thank cruel king Nemrut for this delicious dish enjoyed by millions all over the world. By the way, our story has a happy ending. When Abraham was thrown into the flames, the place becomes a lake and a rose garden and the woods become fishes. Since that day, the area in Urfa called Balikli Göl (Fishy Lake) is considered to be holy ground.

Balikli Göl - URFA

Oruk is a specialty of South Eastern Turkey. Growing up in the West, I did not know this dish until I met my husband who is from Antep. His parents and his uncles made amazing oruks. I got this recipe from uncle Meray who is a great cook. I modified the recipe a little. It is traditionally made with lamb, fatty part of lamb. In order to avoid animal fat, I use leanest ground beef and I add olive oil to add moisture to the beef patties so that when they are cooked they are tender, not hard and dry. When I suggested this change, uncle Meray hesitantly approved, but I'm sure he will continue to make it the "right way".

I am hoping that my friends from Southern and Southeastern Turkey will read this recipe and make comments on it. I’d love to modify it to add flavor and to make it more authentic.

  • 3/4 cup of fine (#1 ) bulgur
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced with garlic press
  • 3 heaping table spoons of dried or fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • dry red chili pepper to taste (1-2 tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt to taste
Preheat oven to 400F.

Place bulgur in a large pan, add water to it, let it soak the water in for about 5 minutes.
Add the ground beef, olive oil, minced garlic, mint, red chili pepper, black pepper and salt to the bulgur in the pan.Knead the mixture until all ingredients are mixed well. You may want to use latex gloves to avoid smelly hands later.

Wet your hands. Take an egg size piece of the mixture. Roll it in your hand and shape it into a round or oval, flat piece (about 1/2 in thick). Repeat this for the rest of the mixture.

A side note here: Half of my family likes oruk very spicy hot, the other half likes it mild. I put hot crushed chili peppers into part of the mixture. To differentiate the hot ones from the mild ones, I form them into two different shapes; rounds ones will be mild, long ones will be hot for example as you see in the picture below.

Place prepared pieces of oruk on a large pan, side by side, touching each other but not overlapping.
Oruk ready to go into the oven
Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is brown.
Oruk cooked until top is golden brown

Serve hot, but my family loves them cold too.

 Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

1 comment:

  1. Looks very exceptional food recipe for me. :) Thanks for Ingredients and direction It will make me easy to cook.

    garlic chili pepper