It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I met lamb koftas; so fragrant and perfectly spiced, they became a mild obsession. Meatballs are pretty pan-cultural, but now and then, you find one little pocket of the world that has it figured right out. I could go into a long-winded discourse about the history of lamb koftas, but I won’t bore you, dear reader. Besides, I don’t really know; I’m too lazy to go look it up and I’m not going to try Being my way through it.
As my esteemed colleague and wife; the mighty Restricted Kitchen guru has often said: I have a knack for reverse engineering a flavour profile of a dish. The knack figures out how to replicate it and tweak it to make little improvements and evolutions. This wonderfully delicious discovery was no exception.
The key element to this is you must, and I can’t stress this enough, must toast the seeds. To not do so is to leave the flavours locked up and something gets lost in the translation. As well, the mint needs to be fresh; please don’t use the dry stuff, you’ll betray the dish and yourself.
The lamb is best when lean; you lose less to shrinkage as the koftas cook and they form us better with out that fatty stickiness. The chili pepper is purely optional; I just tossed it in there because I like the edge and the colour strewn throughout looks cool. You can omit it or de-seed it to tone down the edginess; in fact the finished product isn’t spicy at all.
Lamb koftas are an excellent addition to that next mediterranean platter you make; with dolmades, hummus and a fresh fatoush salad, it’s a crowning glory. Give this recipe a whirl; you’ll see what I mean.
- food processor, mixing bowl, frying pan, baking sheet.
- 1 lb ground lamb preferably lean
- 1 medium sized onion rough chopped
- 1 stick celery rough chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 chili pepper rough chopped
- 1/2 cup pistachios toasted and dry
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley rough chopped
- 1 tsp thyme fresh is best
- 1 Tbsp rosemary preferably fresh chopped
- 1/4 cup mint MUST be fresh; don't cheat yourself
- 1 tsp cumin ground or seed form
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp cardamom ground
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
First, I propose a toast….
- Heat up your trusty frying pan to just above medium and dry toast your seeds; coriander, fennel and caraway. If you're using cumin seeds instead of ground cumin, add them to the pan here……
- Once they begin to emit a fragrant scent, remove them from the pan and set them aside to cool.
Here's where things get a bit choppy.
- Place the pistachios in the food processor and pulse until chopped but not pasty. The pieces should be about the size of peppercorns. Once done, put them in a medium sized mixing bowl with the ground lamb. Don't wash the food processor, you'll need it again in a minute.
- Next, rough chop the onion, celery, parsley, chili pepper and mint; toss them in the food processor with the garlic and thyme; pulse them together until fine chopped, but not totally puréed. You want them to be about the same size as the pistachio bits.
- Chop the rosemary and add it to the lamb mixture with the pulsed up veg and herbs.
- By now the seeds should be cool enough to add to the bowl along with the other spices.
- Thouroughly mix all the ingredients (except the oil, you'll need that to sear them in a bit…) together and form into oval patties or oblong logs. This recipe yields about 8 good-sized koftas.
Cook them off…..
- Heat up The frying pan again to high medium and add the olive oil; once it's good and angry, place the koftas in the pan and let sear for about 2-3 minutes each side until a good brown is achieved.
- Remove to a lined sheet pan and roast at 375F for about 20-25 minutes, or until an internal temprature of 160F is reached.
- Let sit for about 3 minutes and serve. Enjoy!