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Kumpir and other potato dishes you probably never heard of

Ayla Coşkun

ISTANBUL : Potatoes are always a good idea! Here are some recipes for you from Turkish cuisine

When considering what to do with potatoes I usually whip up a classic gratin, because I love throwing stuff in the oven and having a dish ready to serve. But thinking outside the box and breaking up the monotony that potatoes can become is almost literally my job and to be honest, I enjoy it.

Kumpir takes first place in this as it is more of a street food that is closely associated with Istanbul’s Ortaköy district. If you have never heard of kumpir: It is a baked potato that gets mashed in its own peel with some butter and cheese and you add whatever you like on top of it. From olives, salads with mayo or even kısır, to shredded vegetables, sausages, pickles and much more you can choose from a wide variety of toppings, and it makes for a fun dish that fits in your hand (most of the time at least) and is filling.

How to make kumpir?

Before doing any of the following steps you’ve got to find the right potato. And by right, I mean big. The bigger the better. But keep in mind that you want to find smooth ones, so no major lumps or the like.


  • 2 big potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 200 grams shredded cheese
  • toppings of your choice, such as canned corn, pickles, sausages, etc.


Wash your potatoes thoroughly and wrap each in baking paper and then aluminum foil. Fire up your oven to 200 degrees Celsius (392 degrees Fahrenheit) and put them on a rack in the middle. Let them bake for about an hour. See if they have baked through by poking them with a skewer. If they need more time, give it up to half an hour more. Once out of the oven, cut the potato lengthwise, but not completely through, and add one tablespoon of butter and half of the shredded cheese and mix it thoroughly with a fork. Try to do this carefully without harming the outer peel of the potato. Place your kumpir on the plate you want to serve it on and add all the toppings you like. Eat as soon as possible, as kumpir tastes best when it is still warm!

Turkish people in cafe prepare kumpir. (Shutterstock Photo)
Turkish people in cafe prepare kumpir. (Shutterstock Photo)
Stuffed potatoes

Turks love their stuffed vegetables. We featured stuffed eggplants here, called karnıyarık, or the rolled kind called sarma as well. And yes, stuffed artichokes are a thing as well. So it is only natural to do the “potato dolma” in the Turkish style!


  • 11 medium potatoes
  • 200 grams minced meat of your choice
  • 220 grams rice
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tomato
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • half a bundle of parsley
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • salt, pepper, red pepper flakes
  • 400 milliliters hot water + 1 tablespoon tomato paste


Mix the rice with the minced meat and grate the onion, garlic and tomato to be added to the mixture. Finely chop the parsley, add the oil to the filling and knead it through after seasoning it to your liking. Peel the potatoes and hollow them out. If you like, you can leave a piece as a lid to be put on top. Now fill the potatoes about two-thirds full with the meaty mixture. Do not fill them to the brim as the rice will expand and flow over. Place the filled potatoes in a high enough pot and mix the tomato paste with the hot water to fill the pot partially. Close the lid and let it simmer until the potatoes have softened and the rice is cooked through.

A traditional, delicious Turkish food: stuffed potatoes. (Shutterstock Photo)
A traditional, delicious Turkish food: stuffed potatoes. (Shutterstock Photo)


You can do this exact thing with tomatoes as well. The cooking time is a bit shorter as the rice doesn’t need as long as the potatoes.

Serving this with some yogurt is divine!

Do not throw away the potato pieces when you hollowed them out. You can toss them into the pot as well (and soak up the sauce a bit if you like) or chop them really small and add them into the filling.

Potato köfte

Turks and their köfte are synonymous. They have been making a wide variety of meatballs and patties for centuries and naturally, you can make some köfte with potatoes as well. They are not quite fritters or croquettes but are a nice alternative for vegans.


  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 150-200 grams breadcrumbs
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • a bundle of parsley
  • salt, pepper, red pepper flakes
  • oil for frying


Boil your potatoes until they are soft and mash them together with all the ingredients, making sure to finely chop the parsley and garlic. Season to your liking and knead until all the ingredients are properly mixed. Form into small patties or balls depending on how you like them and fry them.


If you would like to have meat in this, go for it. Just keep in mind that you might want to fry it a tad longer than the pure potato version.

I like to make these whenever I have leftover boiled potatoes and feel like going the extra mile to shape and fry them.

Courtesy: Daily Sabah