Bulgur balls and chickpeas in minty yogurt broth: Vegetarian Yuvarlama

Tiny, spiced bulgur balls and chickpeas in a warm yogurt broth drizzled with minty olive oil make for a perfectly nutritious and satisfying dish.

Yuvarlama (or yuvalama) is a specialty from Gaziantep, Turkey. The name comes from the Turkish verb "yuvarlamak" which means "to roll" (and "yuvarlak" meaning "sphere"), referring to the tiny bulgur balls in the dish.

Traditionally, this dish has ground meat either incorporated into the bulgur balls or stewed chunks of lamb among the other components. In this version, I removed all meat from the dish to make it vegetarian.


Makes 2-3 Servings

For bulgur balls:
1/2 cup fine bulgur (70 grams)
1/4 cup semolina (42 grams)
3/4 cups hot water (175 ml) + extra for rolling
1 egg
1/4 cup whole wheat flour (30 grams)
1/2 tablespoon red pepper paste or tomato paste (8 grams)
1/2 teaspoon salt (3 grams)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (2 grams)
1/4 teaspoon cumin

For soup:
600 grams plain thick yogurt (Turkish süzme or Greek yogurt)
2-3 cups warmed vegetable stock (add more or less if you prefer it thicker or thinner)
1 egg
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed well (or pre-cooked chickpeas)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Olive oil (or butter)
Dried mint

  1. To make bulgur balls: in a pot over low heat, combine bulgur, semolina, and water. Remove from heat and add egg, flour, red pepper or tomato paste, salt, pepper, and cumin. Using your hands, knead into a uniform dough. You may need to add a little more water to aid in this process. Next, using your hands roll tiny balls from the dough, about 1 cm wide.
  2. To make soup: in a soup pot, slowly whisk vegetable stock into the yogurt to slowly warm the yogurt. Whisk the egg into the mixture and then add chickpeas, salt, and pepper. Cook over low heat until chickpeas are warmed through.
  3. Cook the bulgur balls in boiling water until they have a pasta-like consistency when you bite into one of them. This will take no more than 10 minutes. Drain them and place them to the side.
  4. Prepare minty olive oil topping by heating olive oil in a pan with some dried mint.
  5. To serve: in a shallow bowl, place 1-2 ladles of the yogurt with chickpeas. Next, add cooked bulgur balls and drizzle with minty olive oil.