Have you ever eaten Kofta?
So Delicious! Kofta are most commonly known as Middle Eastern meatballs though their culinary preparation extends out a little further on both ends of the map. They may be prepared using ground lamb, ground beef or a combination of both.
The number of ingredients used in Kofta preparation is a bit longer than the Italian style meatballs most commonly prepared in the U.S. due to the combination of spices which provide their unique flavor.
Similar to any recipe though, spice proportions and combinations vary slightly by the preparer.
Cumin, then types of seasonings that some would consider baked good spices such as nutmeg and ginger are always included and you may well have everything you need to prepare these flavorful meatballs right in your pantry cabinet.
Though Kofta are meatballs, the similar combination and spice method may also be used in preparing kabobs which my friend Dilara from Turkey, a member of our Ladies International group who moved to Massachusetts some years back used to frequently prepare for us. The tasty combination seemed so exotic yet very subtle.
Kofta are especially delicious combined with clean fresh flavors such as cucumber, tomato, lettuce, fresh cilantro all set on top of Tsaziki, the popular garlicky yogurt dip and a soft warm Naan or thicker style Pita bread. Kofta makes an excellent ‘sandwich’ perfect for lunch or dinner. While today’s dish was prepared using ground lamb which is not always readily available at markets, next time you decide to prepare ground beef why not give Kofta style a try? A little spice, a lot of flavor, Kofta.
- For the Sauce:
- 2 cups plain yogurt
- 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
- juice from half of a lemon
- couple pinches coarse kosher salt
- few grinds cracked black pepper
- For the Kofta Meatballs:
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon each: cumin, nutmeg, allspice, black pepper
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon each chopped fresh mint, parsley, cilantro
- 2 tablespoons olive oil for frying
- For the Assembly:
- 4 slices Naan Bread or thick Pita Bread
- 1 small head green leafed lettuce, leaves separated whole, lightly dried with paper toweling
- 2-3 tomatoes, cored, halved, lightly squeezed from seeds, chopped
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 1 kirby cucumber, striped, cubed
- handful fresh cilantro stems
- Preparing the Sauce: Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl, cover and chill until serving. Check seasoning and adjust to taste
- Preparing the Kofta Meatballs: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large glass bowl combine together all ingredients then form into standard sized meatballs
- On low temperature, pour olive oil into a heated large sized nonstick pan, arrange meatballs in the pan and lightly brown all around, transfer meatballs to the oven to finish cooking around 12-15 minutes
- Assembly: Evenly spread sauce between the Naan or Pita Bread. Top with three to four meatballs. Arrange lettuce leaves, tomatoes, red onion and cucumber on each bread. Garnish with fresh cilantro stems