These koftas have saved me on more than one occasion – the kind of occasion where my boyfriend casually mentions that 6 people are coming over for a feed in half an hour and won’t it be OK if we just buy some sausages? I can never just buy some sausages. These koftas take ten minutes to prep and you can vary the spices so people don’t notice they’ve had them two last minute dinners running (also great on the BBQ). My basic recipe is this: 500g lamb mince, 1/2 red onion (softened in olive oil), 1 fat clove garlic (crushed and and added to onions for last 30 seconds), 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 2 teaspoons ground coriander,* 1-2 red chillies (chopped) and seasoning; just mix everything together well with your hands, mould around skewers then grill. I vary them by adding chopped herbs like mint, parsley or coriander; spices like fennel, cardamom, ground cloves, cinnamon or nutmeg and some lemon or orange zest. The list goes on. Chuck it in and see what happens I say.
I usually serve them up in flatbreads with a tzatziki style sauce but the sight of a few red peppers threatening to wither and a bag of walnuts led me onto muhammara sauce; a thick slurry of pulsed nuts, smoky roasted sweet pepper, pomegranate molasses and breadcrumbs. The only slightly time consuming bit of making this sauce is roasting the peppers so I speed things up by just sitting them directly on the gas flame – just remember to turn them every so often and don’t be alarmed by the spitting and crackling. Also make sure to use something like tongs to pick them up, they will be super hot. My muhammara always comes out paler than others I’ve seen, which I think might be down to the traditional inclusion of aleppo pepper in the recipe; I just used two red chillies from my balcony…
For a bit of substance I also made a tabbouleh: parsley (about 80g as it should be the main ingredient), cooked bulgur wheat (about 50g, although I used barley cous cous this time), 6 chopped cherry tomatoes, 4 sliced spring onions (green parts only), a small handful of mint leaves, a crushed garlic clove, lemon juice, 4 tablespoons olive oil and seasoning. It was delicious but we ended up chucking the whole lot in flatbreads anyway for some carb on carb action. Sometimes it just has to be done.
Muhammara (NEW MUHAMMARA RECIPE HERE)
8 red peppers – roast them until the skins are blackened then place in a bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave for 10 minutes. The skins should now be easy to remove. Chop roughly, discarding the seeds.
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tablespoons hot pepper paste (available from Middle Eastern shops) or 2 red chillies, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted until fragrant in a dry pan and then ground to paste using a grinder or pestle and mortar
50-g white breadcrumbs blended to a paste with about 1 tbsp cold water
2-4 tbsp pomegranate molasses (to taste)
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt and pepper
Put the peppers, walnuts, breadcrumb paste, chillies, cumin, pomegranate molasses and garlic in a blender and blend to a paste. Remove from the blender and mix in the olive oil then taste and add seasoning.