21 Apr Lamb Koftas
For those of you who didn’t get a taste of lamb over the Easter weekend, you might be interested in this week’s recipe. I’ve made some lamb koftas using lamb mince. It’s not the most common of minced meats but it’s a great way to get the rich taste of lamb without the long cooking time. Ask your butcher for some lamb mince. From some research I’ve done online, the leg of lamb appears to be favoured for high-quality lamb mince because it’s typically a leaner part of the animal.
Koftas are a far-reaching food, and are the name given to meatballs found in South Asian, Middle Eastern, Balkan and Central Asian food. This week’s recipe is inspired by the Middle Eastern kofta and I’ve used spices from the region such as sumac and za’atar to maximise the Middle Eastern flavours. You’ll find sumac and za’atar in well stocked supermarkets and specialist food stores.
I’ve paired the koftas with a very simple couscous salad, inspired by tabouleh, the parsley and bulgar wheat salad. I’ve put couscous, mint, tomato and cucumber together to create a fresh salad to lighten up those koftas. Also on the side are some lemony beetroots and some sumac yogurt.
An alternative approach to these skewers would be to use chunks of lamb leg, marinated and cooked under (or over) a grill. If you’ve had your fill of lamb already this Easter, you can swap out the lamb mince for beef mince to create some beef koftas.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
500g lamb mince
1 tablespoon of za’atar
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
Half a teaspoon of ground coriander
Juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tomato, diced
Half a cucumber, diced
Handful of fresh mint, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons of natural yogurt
2 ready-cooked beetroots
Zest of half a lemon
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon of sumac
1. Make the koftas by mixing together the lamb mince, za’atar, cumin and coriander in a large bowl. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and mix well. Shape into koftas and place on skewers. Set aside.
2. Make the couscous salad by placing the couscous in a bowl. Cover the couscous with boiling water and stir with a fork. Allow the couscous to stand for about five minutes, or until the water has been absorbed. Add the juice of half a lemon and the tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and mix well with a fork. Add the diced tomato, cucumber and fresh mint.
3. Place two heaped tablespoons of natural yogurt on a small plate. Slice the beetroots into segments and place on top of the yogurt. Use a small grater to grate the zest of half a lemon over the beets. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
4. Place the other two tablespoons of natural yogurt into a small bowl. Finely grate in the garlic clove and mix into the yogurt. Top with a glug of olive oil and a pinch of sumac. This can be used as a dipping sauce for your lamb.
5. Finally, cook your koftas. You can cook them in a frying pan or griddle pan, under the grill or on a barbecue. They’ll need about 6 to 8 minutes on each side. Serve them with the couscous, the lemony beetroots and the sumac yogurt on the side.
This recipe first appeared in The Irish Independent on April 20th