Çiğ köfte, one of the spiciest Turkish foods, means ‘raw meatballs’ and is usually prepared with the leanest meat, bulghur, tomato paste and spices and kneaded for hours to get the right consistency. On my hunt for heat in Istanbul I found Adıyaman Ciğ Köftecisi a place that not only specializes in the dish but makes it without meat (et siz).
A portion of köfte is enough for 2 people plus a doggy bag and comes with lettuce or durum to wrap it in. A generous squeeze of lemon juice complements the chili as it builds to a gently intense burn in your mouth.
There are other branches of Adıyaman around the city (Osmanbey, Sarıyer, Bağdat Cad.) but if their trademark picture of the cheesily smiling man is not hanging on the walls, you are about to eat counterfeit köfte. Any carnivores wishing to compare with the meat version, Kebab Dunyası at the Taksim end of Istiklal is highly recommended. Personally, I prefer theirs as the veggie version seems to makes up for the missing meat with extra tomato paste and lacks some depth of flavor.
Karayolları Mahallesi 567 Sokak No:18/20