This recipe has everything: spices and nuts, sweet and sour, moisture and crunch. And yet it’s simple to throw together and easy to experiment with! I’ve settled on koftas with fresh flatbreads as my favourite combination, but you could easily have these as burgers or mouth watering meatballs! The secret to a good kofta, as I picked up from Tessa Mallos’ Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook, is lots of parsley. A whole bunch may seem like overkill but I find it complements the rich lamb mince perfectly.
If you have the time do consider making your own bread to go with these, it makes a world of difference. For a quick midweek meal choose a very thin wrap or small pita pockets so the bread doesn’t overwhelm the dish. Or just go full caveman: ditch the bread and wrap the koftas with the lettuce!
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- 700g lamb mince
- 1 bunch parsley, chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry pan
- For the onion jam:
- 2 red onions, sliced into half-rings
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- For the yoghurt sauce:
- 1 cup natural yoghurt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup mint leaves, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- To serve:
- 1 Cos lettuce, leaves separated and washed
- Start with the onion jam. Warm a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over a low heat. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and pepper then cover and cook slowly, stirring regularly, to completely soften the onions. After 25 minutes remove the cover and add the vinegar, then cook down for a further 5 minutes.
- While the onions are softening you can start preparing the lamb. Combine the lamb, parsley, spices and pine nuts in a bowl, season with salt and pepper then mix thoroughly to combine. Form into koftas by taking large tablespoons of mince and shaping them in your palms. It helps to keep your hands wet and cup your palms to get the right shape.
- Warm a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium to high heat then fry the koftas, turning to colour them all over. As the fat renders from the meat you should get a beautiful caramelised crust around the outside of each kofta.
- Finally you can throw together the sauce by combining the yoghurt, lemon juice, zest, garlic, olive oil, mint and salt in a small bowl and stirring well. Garnish with an extra swirl of oil on top.
- Serve the koftas with your favourite flatbread. Time to get your hands dirty: stuff your bread with one or more koftas, lettuce leaves and a helping of onion jam, then top with yoghurt sauce and dig in!