Lamb kofta kebabs are wildly popular in my house. The aroma of ground lamb mixed with lots of fresh herbs, Middle Eastern spices, and garlic searing on the grill or grill pan is always welcome.
I like to serve my lamb kofta (also sometimes called lamb kefta) with hummus, tzatziki, rice or pita bread, and either harissa or chermoula. A tomato and cucumber salad is a refreshing side, as well.
How to make lamb kofta kebabs
There are endless recipes for lamb kofta throughout the Middle East. Every country and region in that part of the world seems to have its own method for seasoning and cooking this flavorful lamb dish.
For the most part, of these recipes involve seasoning ground lamb and forming it into patties, balls, or oblongs and grilling them on skewers. Here’s my basic method:
- Chop fresh mint, cilantro, garlic, and onion.
- Mix the minced herbs and aromatics into ground lamb.
- Add toasted and ground spices including cumin, fennel, and coriander.
- Wrap the mixture around wooden skewers (they’ll be more or less cigar-shaped). You can also form them into oblongs (football-shaped), patties, or balls.
- Grill over medium-high heat.
- Serve with warm pita bread, tzatziki, chermoula, harissa, rice, and a chopped tomato-and-cucumber salad.
What is the difference between Shish Kebabs and Kofta Kebabs?
Shish kebabs are usually chunks of seasoned meat that are grilled on skewers, which kofta kebabs are minced meat mixed with seasonings, formed into balls, and grilled on skewers.
What are the ingredients of lamb kofta kebabs?
- Ground lamb
- Fresh herbs (I use mint and cilantro)
- Middle Eastern spices (I use cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds)
- Salt and pepper
Many recipes for kofta include some sort of grain. Bulgur (cracked wheat berries) is traditional, but I’ve seen recipes that included rice, quinoa, or breadcrumbs. I prefer a meatier version, so I leave the grains out, but feel free to add them if you like.
What to serve with lamb kofta
In the Middle East, you’ll most often see kofta served with an assortment of breads, salads, pickled vegetables, and sauces or dips. Here are a few options (choose one or two or offer them all as part of a lavish Middle Eastern feast):
- Pita bread or Middle Eastern flatbread
- Tzatziki or other yogurt-based dip/sauce
- Tomato and cucumber salad
- Pickled and raw vegetables
- Charmoula sauce
- Cooked rice or rice pilaf
- Lemon wedges
When do you serve this recipe?
This is a great recipe for weeknight meals or for entertaining because it doesn’t take long to put together and most of the work can be done up to two days in advance.
You can also make the sides and sauces in advance if you like. Better yet, you can purchase many of the accompaniments like pita bread, hummus, and tzatziki, making it that much easier to put on a lavish spread with little effort.
Do you cook or eat lamb regularly?
Most Americans either never eat lamb or eat it only rarely, perhaps while dining out. I used to be the same way, but then I discovered that lamb is surprisingly easy to cook and many cuts are quite affordable.
I can buy ground lamb at my regular supermarket for around $8 a pound (or at Grocery Outlet for around $6 a pound).
Cooking ground lamb is not much different from cooking ground beef, but in my opinion, it’s a whole lot more flavorful. If you haven’t cooked lamb before, this recipe is a great place to start.
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 cup cilantro
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1½ pounds ground lamb
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Toast the fennel and cumin seeds in a pan just
until starting to brown, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately transfer the seeds to a spice grinder and grind the seeds to a fine powder.
- Put the onion, garlic, cilantro, and mint in a food processor and process until very finely chopped.
- In a bowl, combine the lamb with the ground fennel and cumin seeds, coriander, salt, pepper, and the finely chopped herb mixture. Stir to mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Wrap the lamb mixture around wooden skewers (about 10 skewers) and grill them, turning every few minutes to cook all sides, over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, until cooked through.
1. If you don’t have a spice grinder, you can use pre-ground
spices, just reduce the amount to ½ teaspoon of each ground cumin and ground fennel seed. Or you can grind the seeds by hand with a mortar and pestle.
2. You can cook these on an outdoor grill or on a grill pan on the stovetop.
Amount Per Serving Calories 505Total Fat 34gSaturated Fat 14gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 17gCholesterol 165mgSodium 673mgCarbohydrates 5gFiber 1gSugar 1gProtein 43g