Lamb koftas is a traditional meat dish found in Middle Eastern Cuisine often served with a tangy yoghurt dressing(tzatziki) and soft flatbreads.
These are packed full of healthy aromatic spices, roasted pine nuts, and vibrant green herbs giving them a Persian touch.
Super easy and quick to make for lunch, dinner or cook ahead for later.
What is it
Kofta, kufteh, or kefta is a dish that consists of ground or minced meat. There are many regional variations and lots of countries have their own unique take on them.
Grilled on skewers. Or made into an oval shape, flat like a patty or round like a meatball and fried.
The word kofta comes from the old Persian word Kōftan. Meaning “to pound or to grind”.
- Toast the nuts and let them cool down completely.
- Chop the onions and herbs and put all the ingredients in a bowl.
- Mix together well until well combined.
- Form oval patties or any other shape you fancy. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet with neutral oil.
- Fry the koftas on medium-high. Both sides should be nicely caramelised and the internal temperature reads at least 55°C or 131°F. Let them rest for 3 minutes.
- Serve with minted yogurt dressing or tzatziki.
Quick yoghurt dressing
Mix together the following ingredients and you have yourself a very versatile yoghurt dressing perfect for your lamb koftas.
- 200g plain yoghurt
- 40g olive oil
- 1g pepper
- 2g dried oregano
- 4g chopped chives, parsley or mint
- 2g cumin powder
- 20g water
- 2g salt
Best cooking methods
- Tandoor – If you are one of the few lucky ones to have a tandoor, then this is the most authentic method.
- Grill or barbecue – The next best if not on par with tandoor cooking. The hot coals beautifully caramelise the koftas while the smoke kisses it and gives it an authentic smokey aroma.
- Stovetop – The way most of us will cook our koftas. Best fried in a heavy-bottomed cast-iron skillet.
- Air fryer – The perfect way to cook koftas if you live in a small flat somewhere in a city.
- Deep-fried – Done correctly and served in a soft flour tortilla or fluffy pita with tahini coleslaw and tzatziki, beats a midnight kebab any day.
- Protein - Change the lamb for beef, fish, chicken or pork.
- Herbs - Cilantro, parsley, tarragon and mint are the most popular. Use any or a combination.
- Nuts - Use pistachio, hazelnuts, walnuts or almonds instead.
- Dried fruit - Not a must. I use raisins but use dried apricots, dried cranberries or simply omit if you don't want any.
- Spices - Make it spicy by adding chilli or give it a Moroccan touch by adding cinnamon and salted lemons.
Frequently asked questions
Store airtight in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Can be frozen for up to 3 months. Before reheating defrost in the fridge first.
This kofta recipe is gluten-free although some recipes do include breadcrumbs.
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Lamb Koftas and Yoghurt Dressing
For the Koftas:
- 1 kg (2 ⅕ lb) lamb mince - 30% fat - note 1
- 200 g (1 ¼ cups) onion - finely chopped
- 4 g (2 teaspoon) turmeric powder
- 2 g (1 teaspoon) ground cinnamon
- 8 g (4 teaspoon) ground cumin - note 2
- 15 g (2 ½ teaspoon) salt
- 20 g (2 ½ tablespoon) garlic - finely chopped
- 100 g (¾ cups) pine nuts - roasted - note 3
- 100 g (⅔ cups) soft jumbo raisins - optional - note 4
- 3 whole (3 whole) eggs - large
- 80 g (1 ⅓ cups) parsley - chopped
- 40 g (1 cups) cilantro - chopped
- 30 g (⅔ cups) mint leaves - chopped
- 2 g (1 teaspoon) oregano - dried
- 2 g (1 teaspoon) black pepper - freshly ground
For the Yogurt Sauce:
- ½ (½) lemon - optional
- ¼ (¼) cilantro - optional
- Mix together all the ingredients for the kofta.
- Shape small ovals and press them flat about 2 cm thick and weighing about 80 grams each.
- Heat oil in non stick frying pan or heavy bottomed skillet. Fry on medium high until well coloured and cooked on both sides or until the internal temperature reads 55°C or 131°F. The meat will continue to cook because of the residual heat, so do not overcook them.
- Mix together the sauce ingredients in a bowl until homogenous.
- Serve with a wedge of fresh lemon and cilantro leaves.
- This recipe can be made with any other meat like chicken, turkey or beef providing it has a good fat content of about 30%. Vegetarians can use vegan meat substitute like beyond meat as a replacement.
- Roast whole cumin seeds and blend them yourself for best results.
- You can replace the pine nuts with other nuts like walnuts or almonds. Otherwise you you could simply omit them.
- You can replace the raisins with currants, dried apricots or omit altogether if you do not like meat with added fruit.
- Once cooked you can store it in the fridge sealed airtight for up to 3 days or for longer storage it can frozen for up to 3 months.
- Once the mix is made it has to be used immediately as the salt will start drawing moisture from the mince.
- If you want to make the mix ahead and store raw, omit the salt and season when cooking it.