Lamb KoftaRecipe By: Elisabeth Prueitt
Try this recipe for Lamb Kofta from the Elisabeth Prueitt’s cookbook, Tartine All Day.
In many parts of the world, from the Middle East to South Asia, kofta are croquettes of meat, vegetables, or grains (or a combination thereof) that can take various shapes. This particular recipe takes inspiration from North Africa, using the spice mixture called ras el hanout, which translates to something close to “top shelf.” Ras el hanout’s standard ingredients are ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, and cardamom. But, according to country and preference, other spices and botanicals, such as cinnamon, rose petals, and lavender, may be added, too. Serve these kofta with the cucumber-rich yogurt sauce, Tzatziki, and Fattoush with Country Bread. If you have the grill going, eggplant would be a natural addition, too.
- 1/4 cup quinoa
- 1/2 cup water
- Large pinch of sea salt
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp chopped mint leaves
- 1 tsp ras-el-hanout (optional) or add 1/4 tsp more of each of the other spices *
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 8 bamboo or metal skewers (optional)
- 2 tbsp olive oil, for pan-frying (optional)
*If you don’t have ras-el-hanout, grind together: 1 tsp fennel seeds, 2 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp black peppercorns, ½ tsp dried lavender, ¼ tsp ground cloves, 1 tsp whole coriander, 1 tsp ground dried ginger, and ¼ tsp ground turmeric.
- Rinse the quinoa very well, 3 or 4 times. Combine the quinoa, water, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let sit, covered, for 15 minutes. Uncover and let cool. (Quinoa can be cooked up to 3 days ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator.)
- In a large bowl, combine the cooled quinoa, lamb, onion, cumin, salt, pepper, parsley, cinnamon, mint, ras-el-hanout, and red pepper flakes. Gently mix just until the spices are evenly distributed, but take care not to overmix so the kofta are tender when cooked. (The meat mixture can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator.)
- The kofta mixture can be shaped around skewers and grilled or cooked as patties. For grilling, preheat the grill. If grilling and using bamboo skewers, soak the skewers in water for 30 minutes before forming the meat on them. To form the meat on skewers, place some meat in your palm and use your other hand to gently flatten. Place a skewer on top of the meat and close your hand, folding the meat evenly around the skewer, making the meat about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Repeat to add 1 to 2 more kofta to the skewer, and then set it on a plate and repeat with the remaining meat mixture and skewers. (Skewers can be prepared a day or two ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator.) If pan-frying, shape the meat mixture into patties that are 4 inches in diameter.
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
- Grill the skewers or fry the patties until browned and cooked through, 6 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.Store leftover kofta in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Tip: To see if you’ve adequately seasoned the meat, fry a small piece of the kofta mix in a pan and taste it once it’s cooked. Add more salt, pepper flakes, or ras-el-hanout if you find the flavor is lacking.