Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lamb Kofte

In my search for new and different meals to bring for lunch, I stumbled across this Bon Appetit recipe for lamb kofte. I wanted food that was portable and utensil-less, making for easy eating during the work day. I've always found it weird to wield a fork a knife to cut a piece of chicken inside of a Gladware container. Lunch should not be a struggle, but rather a small moment of respite.

Enter the lamb kofte. Pita is a great option when another ham sandwich won't cut it. Of course, you could just make a ham pita. But instead of letting your lunch fall flat, let it fall on flatbread. Let's put some flavor into the mid-day meal with this Middle Eastern classic.

Lamb Kofte
Yields 6 servings, adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine

Yogurt Sauce
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
2 lbs ground lamb
1/2 cup fresh mint, minced
1/2 cup onion, grated
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp cumin
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
6 pitas
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 large onions, halved and sliced
1/2 cup roasted red peppers
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp molasses
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

For the yogurt sauce, combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and chill.


For the kofte, gently mix lamb, mint, onion, garlic, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Use gentle motions and don't overwork the meat or else you'll have tough meatballs. Roll the mixture into 1.5" meatballs. Arrange them on a baking sheet lined with plastic wrap.

Sauteed Onions

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onion and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Saute until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Set aside.


To make the muhammara, add roasted red peppers to the same skillet used to cook the onions, stirring for 1 minute over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup water and 2 tbsp molasses (pomegranate if you wish). Bring to a simmer, scraping up any brown bits. Cook until reduced to 2/3 cup, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Mix in parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then transfer to a small bowl.

Add 1 tbsp oil to the skillet and place over medium-high heat. Saute the meatballs in batches until just cooked through, 7-8 minutes.

Lamb Kofte in Pita

To assemble the pitas, tuck the meatballs in the pocket (or place on flatbread if that's what you prefer). Top with onions, muhammara and tahini sauce. You can eat it cold or warm, depending on what you like.

What a perfect lunch this sandwich makes. No sliced deli meat and wilted lettuce. Instead, it's packed with delicious Middle Eastern flavors with that lovely caramelization in the background to unite it all. Tired of the usual bag lunch? Then you should opt for something decidedly international, but still totally portable.

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