By Pete Evans August/September 2014 Issue – Fine Cooking

Found all over Turkey and the Middle East, köfte (KOF-ta) are essentially meatballs, often made from lamb. They’re traditionally served with warm flatbread, raw onions, and plain yogurt, but they’re also delicious paired here with a bright, tangy yogurt sauce. The spice mix makes more than you’ll need—use it on beef, and grilled vegetables, or stir it into hummus and other dips.


For the spice mix
1 Tbs. ground cumin
1-1/2 tsp. dried mint
1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. hot paprika
1 tsp. cracked black pepper

For the pomegranate-yogurt sauce
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbs. pomegranate molasses; more for serving
2 Tbs. chopped fresh mint
1 tsp. ground sumac or 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

For the köfte
1 lb. ground lamb
1 medium plum tomato, seeded and finely diced
1/4 cup finely grated red onion
1 tsp. pomegranate molasses
1 medium clove garlic, minced
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
8 12-inch flat, wide skewers (soaked in water for 30 minutes if wooden)
Vegetable oil, as needed
2 Tbs. pomegranate seeds (optional)
2 Tbs. small fresh mint leaves (optional)


Make the spice mix
1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl.

Make the yogurt sauce
1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl.

Make the köfte
1. Put the lamb, tomato, onion, pomegranate molasses, garlic, 1 Tbs. of the spice mix, and salt in a large bowl. Using your hands, mix until combined and the meat is a bit sticky. With wet hands, divide the lamb into 8 portions. Working with one portion at a time and rewetting your hands as necessary to prevent sticking, press the lamb around the skewers into sausage shapes about 4-1/2 inches long. Transfer to a baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 and up to 4 hours.

2. Prepare a medium-high (400°F to 475°F) gas or charcoal grill fire for direct grilling. Oil the grill grate. Grill the köfte, turning once, until no longer pink in the center (cut into one to check), about 6 minutes.

3. Garnish with the pomegranate seeds and mint, if using. Drizzle more pomegranate molasses over the yogurt sauce, and then serve with the sauce.

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