Dive into the rich flavours of the Middle East with this tempting Lamb Kofta Recipe. Your journey to a delightful meal kicks off with a harmonious blend of herbs and spices combined with succulent lamb meat.
To achieve that authentic texture, I use a food processor to ensure well-combined ingredients and finely minced meat. Yet, the charm of this recipe lies in its flexibility. If a food processor isn’t available, you can use a traditional hand mixing method instead.
You can grill koftas using a griddle pan on the stove, in the oven, an air fryer, or on your BBQ. My recipe also includes some serving suggestions below. Enjoy cooking!
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What is Kofta?
Understanding Kofta: A Culinary Gem
Kofta is a beloved dish across the Middle East, South Asia, and the Mediterranean, crafted mainly from ground meat like lamb or beef. To infuse it with its distinctive flavour and texture, the meat is combined with a medley of spices such as cumin and coriander, along with ingredients like onions and garlic.
A key aspect of elevating the taste is the addition of fresh herbs like parsley, mint, or cilantro, which impart a refreshing and aromatic essence to the mixture. Once the blend is well-combined, it’s shaped into small balls or patties. These meat formations are then cooked to perfection, which can be achieved through grilling, frying, or baking, until they attain a savoury browned exterior and a tender interior. The outcome is a flavourful, herbaceous meat delight that pairs wonderfully with a variety of sauces and accompaniments.
Tracing the Roots of Kofta:
Kofta has a rich history, believed to have originated in the ancient kitchens of Persia, present-day Iran, thousands of years ago. As traders and travelers moved across regions, they carried along the culinary concept of kofta, making it a beloved dish across many cultures, especially in the Middle East.
Variations of Koftas Across the Middle East:
As kofta traveled across the Middle East, it embraced the unique flavors and ingredients of each region, leading to a delightful variety of kofta dishes.
- In Turkey, they know kofta as köfte, often making it from lamb or beef, blended with spices like cumin, paprika, and minced onions. You can grill, fry, or bake Turkish kofta, and sometimes serve it with a savoury tomato sauce or place it inside a flatbread.
- Lebanese Kofta: Lebanese kofta, often referred to as kafta, includes a mix of beef, lamb, or a combination of both, mingled with parsley, onions, and a variety of Middle Eastern spices. It’s commonly grilled and served with sides like tabbouleh and hummus.
- Egyptian Kofta: Egyptian kofta tends to stick to simpler ingredients, primarily using minced lamb or beef, onions, parsley, and basic spices. It’s traditionally cooked on a grill and enjoyed with a side of tahini sauce or a simple salad.
- Iraqi Kofta: In Iraq, a blend of spices, minced onions, and parsley often infuses kofta. Typically shaped into patties or meatballs, it simmers in a rich tomato-based sauce.
- Moroccan Kofta: Moroccan kofta, known as kefta, incorporates beef or lamb mixed with a blend of traditional Moroccan spices, often including cumin, paprika, and cinnamon. It’s usually cooked in a tomato sauce or grilled and served with flatbread.
What to serve with Lamb Koftas?
Pairing the right accompaniments with kofta can truly elevate your culinary experience by complementing the rich flavors of the meat.
A classic choice is soft pita bread or flatbread, which provide a mild, comforting counterpoint to the spicy, hearty nature of kofta. Rice dishes like a fragrant rice pilaf or a more aromatic and spicy biryani can also be hearty sides. For a refreshing contrast, consider salads such as tabbouleh with its fresh, herby profile, or fattoush with its crispy texture and tangy flavours.
Dipping sauces like cool, creamy tzatziki or smooth, subtle hummus are traditional and satisfying choices that harmonize well with kofta. Lastly, light, fluffy couscous or Kisir (Turkish bulgur wheat Tabbouleh) can be excellent accompaniments, especially with Moroccan or Turkish-style kofta, adding a traditional and satisfying component to your dining table.
How to prepare Lamb Koftas:
Lamb Kofta Recipe
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- 1.3 lbs Lamb mince - (600g) Use organic, lean for the best result.
- 1 Onion, medium size - diced
- 4 Garlic cloves
- 1 handful Fresh parsley
- ½ handful Fresh mint
- 1 tbsp Breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp Chilli powder
- 1½ tsp Ground cumin
- 1½ tsp Paprika
- ½ tsp Ground All Spice
- ½ tsp Black pepper
- 1 pinch Nutmeg
- 1 tsp Salt - (6g) (1% salt per 100g of meat)
- 2 tbsp Olive oil - for brushing koftas
- Place all the Kofta ingredients, except for the meat, in a food processor and blend until combined. Take out half of the mixture and add in half of the meat. Process the mixture until the meat is finely minced, then transfer it to a bowl. Repeat the process with the other half of the mixture and meat, and mix everything together. Refrigerate the mixture until you are ready to use it.(If you do not have a food processor, you can finely dice the onion and mince the garlic, then mix these along with the other ingredients by hand in a large mixing bowl).
- Divide the meat mixture into five equal parts. Shape each part into a sausage-like form.
- Skewer each sausage-shaped meat through the middle using metal skewers, ensuring they are securely placed on the skewers. Preheat your grill or barbecue to a medium-high heat. Lightly brush the koftas with olive oil.
- Place the koftas on the grill and cook for about 5-10 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are cooked through and have a nice, crispy exterior. If grilling at home without a traditional grill, you can use a cast-iron griddle heated in the oven to achieve a grilled texture and flavour.
- Serve the lamb kofta hot, garnished with extra fresh herbs and accompanied by Kisir (Turkish Tabbouleh) or other side dishes like flatbread, hummus, yogurt dip or tzatziki.
Lamb Kofta Kebab: Select ground lamb preferably organic with a bit of fat to ensure your koftas are juicy and packed with flavour.
Beef Kofta Kebab: Should you have a preference for beef, or if lamb isn’t easily accessible, ground beef is a suitable substitute. Opt for a blend that isn’t too lean; a ratio of 80/20 (80% lean meat and 20% fat) could yield juicy and flavourful koftas. The fat content aids in keeping the koftas moist while grilling. Since beef has a milder flavour compared to lamb, feel free to adjust the seasoning to your liking.
Marinate: Allowing the ground lamb to marinate with the spices for several hours, or better yet, overnight, will enrich the flavours.
Binding Agent: This recipes uses breadcrumbs to help bind the meat mixture together. This can prevent the kofta from falling apart while grilling. You can also use beaten egg instead.
Skewers: If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for about 30 minutes before threading the koftas. This prevents the skewers from burning on the grill.
Grill Temperature: Ensure the grill is preheated to a medium-high temperature. A too-hot grill can cause the outside to cook too quickly while leaving the inside undercooked.
Few words from Chef
I trust you had a delightful time crafting these succulent koftas! I’m curious to know, what sides did you pair them with? Your culinary adventures inspire me, so feel free to share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below!