These Lamb Koftas are a long standing personal favourite Middle Eastern recipe! Made with lamb mince (ground lamb) and a hefty dose of spices, the smell when this is cooking is intoxicating!
You’ll be surprised how many of the spices you already have for this Lamb Koftas recipe – they’re pantry standards. Stuff these in warm pita breads with a fresh Cabbage, Carrot & Mint Salad and a side of Pilaf with Dried Nuts and Fruit or Mejadra (Spice Lentil Rice) to create your own Middle Eastern banquet.
Lamb Kofta recipe
Middle Eastern food is one of my favourite cuisines because I’m all about big flavours, and the heavy spice flavouring of Middle Eastern dishes like these Koftas, Chicken Shawarma, Lamb Shawarma and Doner Kerbabs really hits my sweet spot!
The other reason is because most of 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 such as Mexican food (which also makes a regular appearance around these parts).
It’s the combination of spices used in Middle Eastern cooking that makes it taste and smell so exotic – and these Lamb Koftas are no exception!
Cinnamon is the secret ingredient in Lamb Koftas that’s so distinctly Middle Eastern and makes these intoxicating!
What goes in lamb koftas
Here’s what you need. How many of these spices do you already have?? 🙂
(PS I realise panko breadcrumbs are totally non-Middle Eastern, but they are so much better than normal breadcrumbs, being that they’re larger fluffier pieces = softer koftas!)
(PPS While these are lamb koftas, this recipe works equally well with beef!)
How to make lamb koftas
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 and refrigerated or frozen, making them ideal for getting ahead for busy midweek meals or big gatherings!
Remember: skewers are optional! Also, there are plenty of shape options:
Skewers – smoothish (pictured) or flat and dimpled
Non skewered – balls, football shaped, short cylinders, long cylinders
So unleash the creative demon within! 😈
Best way to cook lamb koftas
Grill over charcoal – the ultimate and traditional way! The extra smokey flavour is sooooo good;
BBQ – next best, and the way I usually cook them for gatherings;
Stove – the way I cook them most of the time; and
Broiler/grill – a fall back option, though you don’t get quite as good browning on the surface.
Yogurt Sauce for lamb koftas
The heavy spicing and rich flavour of lamb makes the koftas a perfect candidate for a tangy-yet-creamy Lemon Garlic Yogurt Sauce. Sometimes I like to add a dollop of Tahini which adds another layer of richness.
And if I’m serving these at a gathering, I’ll usually add Hummus as another sauce option.
What to serve with Lamb Koftas
The most common way koftas are served are as wraps. This is how I serve it:
Flatbreads – to make wraps (try these easy no-yeast homemade flatbreads)
Simple Lemon Yogurt Sauce (included in recipe)
Hummus – extra / alternative sauce option
A colourful minted red cabbage salad which is a refreshing contrast and adds great crunch
A couple of alternative salad options for wraps:
Shredded lettuce or other leafy greens, tomato slices and onion (the easy option)
Tabbouleh – see recipe in the notes of this Doner Kebab recipe
This Middle Eastern Chickpea, Tomato and Cucumber Salad would also pair beautifully, though I’d skip the spiced chickpeas (make sure you dice the veg small enough to stuff inside)
A big fat Greek Salad – different cuisine I know, but this is right at home alongside the strong flavours in these Koftas and I love stuffing them in the pita bread! (Again, make sure the veg is chopped smaller)
The other option is to serve it with a rice pilaf side instead of (or in addition to) pita bread. Here are some pilaf recipes that will pair beautifully with these Lamb Koftas:
Middle Eastern Lentil Rice Pilaf (Mejadra – one of my personal favourites!)
Red Rice – albeit Mexican, the flavour is on theme with Middle Eastern food
These lamb koftas first made an appearance on my website way back in 2014 when I first started this blog. Patience has never been my greatest virtue, so I did all my favourite recipes right out of the gate. And finally, I’m starting to trawl through them and create videos along with new photos – because I’ve come a long way in both fields since then! 😂
It’s a great recipe for entertaining because you can prepare everything in advance then just throw the koftas on the BBQ when your guests arrive. Pile it all onto a platter and let your guests help themselves! I’ve made this for my friends on many occasions – here’s a typical Arabian Feast menu they’re very familiar with, and I don’t think anyone’s getting bored of it….. – Nagi xx
Watch how to make it
Lamb Koftas with Yoghurt Dressing
- 1 lb / 500 g lamb mince (ground lamb)
- 1/2 onion , grated
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs , preferably panko
- 2 cloves garlic , crushed
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp coriander
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper (this is a bit spicy, reduce to taste or leave out)
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 black pepper
- 1 cup yogurt , Greek or other thick plain
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic , crushed
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp salt and pepper , each
- Yogurt Sauce: Combine the yogurt sauce ingredients and leave in fridge for at least 20 mninutes for the flavor to develop (overnight even better!).
- Koftas: Grate the onion into the bowl using a standard box grater. Add remaining 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. Make them smooth (looks nicer, pictured!) or a bit nubbly (more surface area to brown!).
- Stove: Preheat 1/2 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook in batches for 5 minutes in total, turning to brown evenly all over.
- BBQ: BBQ on medium high for about 6 minutes, rotating to brown all over.
- Broiler/oven grill: preheat and cook koftas 30cm/10" from heat source for 12 minutes, rotating as needed until lightly browned (you won't get as good a browning as stove/BBQ).
- Shredded iceberg lettuce (or just handfuls of leafy greens) with slices of tomato and onion (like the way Doner Kebabs are made), some fresh coriander/cilantro, parsley or mint would also be lovely
- Tabbouleh - see recipe in Doner Kebab recipe
- This seasoned Middle Eastern Lentil Rice Pilaf (Mejadra) is super tasty and would go perfectly to serve on the side / stuffing inside the pitas
- Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad with Cucumber and Tomato (skip the chickpeas if you want) - great juicy crunch factor
- Hummus instead of / in addition to yogurt sauce
- Add a side of juicy marinated BBQ Vegetables (or road them!) - extra amazing to stuff into pitas with the koftas
Lamb koftas recipe first published November 2014. Updated September 2019 with brand new photos, complete rewrite, slight recipe improvements, brand new video and most importantly, Life of Dozer section added!
Life of Dozer
He knows full well he is not allowed on the white leather couch…. always pushing the boundaries!!!
(PS This is at my mother’s house, and she is going to be peeeeeeeved when she sees this photo! 😂)