There’s something about the smell of Middle Eastern spices sizzling over hot charcoals. It’s intoxicating and you just know that whatever comes off the grill is going to be mouth watering.
“I think you’ll be surprised by how many of the ingredients you already have. Most of the spices used in Middle Eastern cooking are fairly standard pantry essentials.”
I made this as part of an Arabian Feast menu which I’ll be sharing in the coming weeks (psst, it’s a 7 dish make ahead feast prepared in 1 hour!). Middle Eastern is one of my favourite cuisines because I really love strong flavoured food. The other reason I make Middle Eastern quite often is because the spices are pantry staples. It always surprises me when I read a Middle Eastern recipe and realise that I have everything I need to make it (other than fresh produce), spices like cumin, coriander, cinnamon and paprika which are used in other popular cuisines. It’s the combination of spices used in Middle Eastern cooking that makes it taste and smell so exotic.
Koftas are super simple to make. Just toss everything into the bowl, mix it up then thread onto skewers. I even grate the onion straight into the bowl. And there’s just no avoiding getting your hands dirty to make sure the spices are well mixed throughout the meat. It’s half the fun!
“These can be made ahead or even frozen. If time permits, I really recommend refrigerating them for at least 30 minutes before cooking them because it firms them up and makes them easier to cook.”
I like to serve this with a simple yoghurt sauce and a colourful red cabbage salad which is a refreshing contrast and adds great crunch. Just pile it all onto a pita or flatbread, fold it in half and get stuck into it.
This is a great dish for entertaining because you can prepare everything in advance then just throw the koftas on the grill when your guests arrive. Pile it all onto a platter and let your guests help themselves!
As I mentioned, this recipe is part of an Arabian Feast I recently did. 7 dishes that took 1 hour to prepare – 3 starters, 2 meat dishes (this Kofta is one of them) plus 2 salads (including the red cabbage salad pictured). I’ll be doing a post on the menu soon but here’s a little preview for you!
1 Hour Arabian Feast Menu
For the Men to Grill
- Lamb Koftas
- Chicken Sharwarma (coming soon!)
Because we must have Greens (and cater for Vegetarians)
I’ll be preparing a post rounding up the full menu and explaining how to prepare it in 1 hour, how to store it and what needs to be done on the day.
Stay tuned and happy grilling! – Nagi
- 1 lb / 500 g minced / ground lamb
- 1 onion , grated
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 cloves garlic , crushed
- 1 tsp ground cumin seeds
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper (this is a bit spicy, reduce to taste or leave out)
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup Greek yoghurt
- 1 clove garlic , crushed
- 1 tsp cumin
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
- 4 flatbreads (Lebanese or pita bread)
- Shredded Red Cabbage , Carrot and Mint Salad (see notes)
Combine the yoghurt sauce ingredients and leave in fridge for the flavor to develop (overnight if possible).
Combine the kofta ingredients and mix well with your hands.
With damp hands, divide the meat into 8 equal pieces and push and shape the meat onto 8 skewers. If using wooden skewers, make sure they’ve been soaked in water before using (so they don’t burn when cooking). Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Grill the koftas on the outdoor barbecue until nicely browned on both sides, then remove to rest for a few minutes (approximately 8 to 10 minutes).
To serve, get a flatbread, place some Salad on it and a Kofta, then drizzle over Yoghurt Sauce. Or serve on a platter and let your friends do their own.
1. You do not need to make a salad to accompany this. You could just serve it with some shredded lettuce and slices of tomato. Also slices of spanish onion, fresh coriander, parsley and mint goes very well.