We’ve been on a Middle Eastern food kick lately. Something about the change in the seasons has us craving the exotic and layered spices associated with the food of this region and simple grilled meats served with a yogurt sauce, fresh herbs, and rice.
Kofta kebabs use ground meat (lamb, ground chuck, or ground sirloin) mixed with onion, garlic and spices and are easy and quick to cook. Inexpensive and flavorful: can’t beat that for a good summer meal.
Break open the spice cabinet, I used 10 different spices in these to imbue them with maximum flavor.
Lamb Kofta Kebabs
- 4 T. crushed garlic (I have been using the Gourmet Garden brand of garlic paste in the tube. It’s just easier than chopping.)
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 lbs. ground lamb
- 6 T. grated yellow onion
- 6 T. chopped fresh parsley
- 2 T. ground coriander
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 T. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
- Place the ground lamb in a large bowl. Add the spices along with the onion and garlic, and mix well.
- Form the mixture into 22 balls (about 1.5 ounces each). Mold each ball around the tip of a skewer, pushing the ball down the skewer and flattening into a 2 inch oval; each skewer should have a total of 3 koftas (if you are not threading them with vegetables.) Repeat with the remaining skewers.
- Place the kebabs onto a baking sheet, cover, and refrigerate at least 1 hour. This is an important step because if the kofta are not chilled they may fall off the skewers when you grill them.
- Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat and lightly oil grate.
- Cook the skewers on the preheated grill, turning once or twice, until the lamb has cooked to your desired degree of doneness, about 6 minutes for medium.
Serve with tzatziki (recipe follows) and basmati rice.
recipe adapted from “Ask the Barefoot Contessa,” House Beautiful magazine
2 cups plain Greek yogurt (such as Fage Total 2%)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved, and seeded
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 T. crushed garlic (Gourmet Garden brand is nice)
2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 T. white vinegar
1 T. minced fresh dill (optional)
Place the yogurt in a bowl. Grate the cucumber on a box grater and squeeze the grated cucumber with your hand to remove most of the liquid. Add to the yogurt. Add the lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, and dill. Stir gently until blended and chill at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to develop.
Kofta are incredibly versatile. If it is raining when you want to grill, you can broil these on high (preheat your broiler). You can also skip the skewering step and make them into small lamb sliders and broil them. Serve them over rice or tucked into flatbreads with some lightly dressed salad greens.