Friday, April 04, 2008

Grilled Lamb Kofta

Home-Ground Meat Series, Post #2

We saw an episode of Jamie at Home and he was doing lamb dishes. I like Jamie Oliver: everything he makes seems so delicious, even things I wouldn't usually consider good eating. I've wanted to reach across the TV screen barrier and grab one of those fried rabbit pieces he was eating. It must be his genuine energy and enthusiasm for food combined with genuine cooking chops (as opposed to most of the "personalities" on the Food Network these days).

Since I have about 3 pounds of ground lamb left over from the other day, I decided to put it to good use in lamb koftas. Lamb kofta is not something I normally would crave, although the seed of craving had been planted earlier by a couple of episodes of Food Safari (featuring Lebanese and Turkish cuisine, including a Lebanese kafta and a Turkish kofte). This episode of Jamie at Home just made that seed grow and blossom into action.

The recipe is here (also available in the accompanying book, of course):

Instead of lamb shoulder, which is generally fattier, I used the leg. I think I followed it fairly well, except I have no sumac so I zested a couple of lemons. I thought I'd err on the side of more lemon zest than less, since I figure the gaminess of the meat would be counteracted by more lemon zest. The herbs I dropped in were also approximate. I'm sure they don't match the measurements he gave in his recipe.

I didn't have pistachios and didn't want to look for any other nuts (although I think we had walnuts and/or pinenuts in the house), so I made do without any of the nuts.

I tried looking for our metal skewers but couldn't find them. Therefore, I just shaped them into flattened ovals as best I could, like the Turkish koftas I saw on Food Safari (although those were smaller). I put the ovals on the grill and waited for them to be done.

I asked TS to make some condiments.

I don't remember exactly what Jamie did for his condiments. For mine, I made a yogurt with grated garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. I also made the "salad"/"salsa" below. It had red onions, cucumbers, parsley and lemon juice. (And s&p, of course). I think that was it.

I tried one and I was pleasantly surprised. The kofta tasted very authentic in its spicing. It was also very soft and tender, which I didn't expect because it was an all-meat kofta without any bread or other fillers. The meat was not gamey at all: it just enough of the lamb-taste that I like, enough to know that it was indeed lamb and not any other meat, but wasn't overwhelmingly muttony.

I can't wait to do this on a metal skewer for that more authentic kebab shape. Also, I want to try this recipe with beef and/or chicken.

And grilled over charcoal, which would make it even more delicious.

I just realized that the section for ingredients on Jamie's recipe online is not formatted for easy reading. I'll just give the measurements I used for my kofta.

3 lbs ground lamb
2 lemons for zest
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground cayenne (I think I forgot this: my kofta were not spicy)
6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, minced
8-10 mint leaves, minced
salt, pepper

This makes about 10 ovals (approximate size: 2" x 4").

Next time I make this, I will not forget the cayenne or chili. I want this to have a little bit of heat.

Hey, what do you know. . .I can't even tell the difference between our version and Jamie's version! Well, the lighting and the photography in his version is much better, obviously. Hopefully, our version tastes as good as his.

[eatingclub] vancouver dishes inspired by Food Safari episodes:
Spanish: Tortilla de Patatas
Thai: Waterfall Beef Salad
Lebanese: Tarator-style Sauce
Thai: Thai Basil Stir-Fry (gka prow)
Lebanese: Lamb Kafta (Turkish: Lamb Kofte)
Indonesian: Belado
Moroccan: Preserved Lemons
Moroccan: Chicken Tagine


  1. I like your recipe! My kofta (or kafta, as I say!) is similar but more Lebanese than Turkish.


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