This is a family favourite. It’s a very weekday night dinner to put together if you can get some good minced lamb. The kofte can be shaped and refrigerated ahead of time. Eat them with some flatbread, and a Tahini sauce (see note below for a simple version), hummus (click here for recipe), or Tzatziki. If you like spice, serve harissa or zhoug (fiery green relish) alongside. Ottolenghi has a fabulous recipe for both. A mixed salad or pickled vegetables complete the meal.
I have come across several Middle-Eastern recipes for minced lamb kofte, and have tried many variations. All contain some aromatics (onion, garlic, fresh herbs, etc.), spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, paprika, cumin) and some crunchy toasted nuts (pine nuts, cashews or pistachios are good). You can mix and match as you like choosing something from each category.
Personally, I like to always add some red pepper as the crunch and colour is pleasing. Another trick I learned from an ancient Sofra cookbook, is to add a small amount of baking powder or soda, to make the kofte tender.
Turkish Lamb Kofte
A mini-chopper or food processor makes easy work of finely chopping the aromatics.
In the summer, the mixture can also be moulded around flat skewers for grilling on a barbeque. For most of the year, I cook them on my heavy-duty grill pan in the kitchen and that gives the kofte a lovely smoky flavour.
Use a mini-chopper or food processor with the steel blade and process the onions, herbs, red pepper, and toasted nuts.
Mix in the meat,, spices and salt until thoroughly combined. At this stage, if you have time, cook off a teaspoon in the microwave to taste the seasoning and adjust as necessary. Then shape into fingers or flat round patties. Cover and chill for at least an hour, or up to 8 hours.
Heat a ridged griddle or frying (or a well-seasoned and oiled barbeque). Cook the kofte on each side until a deep golden brown. Don’t flip the kofte until the meat is no longer sticking to the griddle. Eat immediately with accompaniments. See above.
Easy Tahini Sauce:
Stir 2 tablespoons of tahini paste with a tablespoon of lemon juice and 1 small clove of grated garlic. The mixture will become thick and clumpy. Add a few tablespoons of water gradually to bring it to a thick pouring consistency. Add salt to taste.