Lamb kofta kebabs are wildly popular in my house. The aroma of ground lamb mixed with lots of fresh herbs, Middle Eastern spices, and garlic searing on the grill or grill pan is always welcome. This kebab recipe is one of my all-time favorites.
I like to serve my lamb kofta kebabs (also sometimes called kefta kebabs) garnished with fresh parsley and with sauces like hummus, tzatziki or another refreshing yogurt sauce, rice or pita bread, and either harissa paste, zhoug sauce, or chermoula. A tomato and cucumber salad is a refreshing side, as well.
What ingredients do you need for this lamb kofta kebab recipe?
These kofta kebabs don’t require a long list of ingredients, but it is full of flavor. Here are all the ingredients you need:
- Fennel seed
- Cumin seed
- Fresh mint leaves
- Ground lamb (you can substitute ground beef, use a combination of beef and lamb, or even use another meat like ground turkey if you prefer)
- Ground coriander
- Salt and pepper
Many recipes for kofta kebabs include some sort of grain mixed in with the ground meat mixture. Bulgur (cracked wheat berries) is traditional, but I’ve seen recipes that included rice, quinoa, or breadcrumbs. I prefer a meatier version, so I leave the grains out, but feel free to add them if you like.
How to make this lamb kofta kebab recipe
Lamb kofta kebabs is one of the most popular dishes in the Middle East. There are countless lamb kofta kebab recipes throughout the area. While each country and region in that part of the world has similar recipes, each seems to have its own method for seasoning and cooking this flavorful lamb dish.
For the most part, every kofta kebab recipe involves seasoning ground meat (usually lamb, but sometimes a meat mixture of ground beef and lamb is used) and forming it into patties, balls, or oblongs pressed around skewers and grilling them. Here’s how to make this lamb kofta kebab recipe:
- Finely chop fresh mint, cilantro, garlic, and onion on a cutting board. If you like, you can do this in a food processor, just make sure to pulse it to avoid completely pureeing the ingredients.
- In a large bowl, mix the herbs, garlic, and onion (if you’ve used a food processor, transfer the mix from the food processor to a large bowl) with the meat and mix well.
- Toast the whole spices (cumin seed and fennel seeds) in a skillet over medium heat just until they begin to pop and become aromatic. Remove from the heat.
- Transfer the warm toasted spices to a spice grinder or a mortar. Let the spices cool for a minute or two before grinding them into a coarse powder.
- Add the ground spices including cumin, fennel, and coriander to the meat mixture along with salt and pepper and mix well.
- Wrap the meat mixture around wooden skewers. You can also form them into oblongs (football-shaped), sausage shapes, patties, or balls or just make them cylindrical or cigar-shaped. Form them either around the skewer or in your hands and then put the skewer through the center.
- Grill the kofta kebabs, turning occasionally, over medium high heat.
- Serve the lamb kofta kebab garnished with fresh parsley, if desired, and with warm pita bread, tzatziki or other yogurt sauce, chermoula, harissa, rice, and a chopped tomato-and-cucumber salad.
What is the difference between Shish Kebabs and Kofta Kebabs?
Both are middle eastern lamb kebabs, but Shish kebabs are usually chunks of seasoned meat that are grilled on skewers over a charcoal grill. Kofta kebabs, like this kofta kebab recipe, on the other hand, are made with a seasoned meat mixture that is formed into balls that are skewered and grilled.
What to serve with lamb kofta
In the Middle East, you’ll most often see kofta served with an assortment of breads, salads, pickled vegetables, and sauces or dips. You can make this lamb kofta kebab recipe into a well-rounded meal by adding various garnishes and sides along with them. Here are a few options (choose one or two or offer them all as part of a lavish Middle Eastern feast):
- Pita bread or Middle Eastern flatbread
- Tzatziki or other yogurt-based dip/sauce
- Lemon zest or lemon wedges, for garnish
- Fresh parsley, mint, or other finely chopped fresh herbs for garnish
- Tomato and cucumber salad
- Sliced red onion
- Garlic sauce like toum (a garlic sauce that similar to mayonnaise but with intense garlic flavor)
- Pickled and raw vegetables
- Harissa Paste
- Zhoug Sauce
- Charmoula sauce
- Cooked rice or rice pilaf
When do you serve this recipe?
This is a great recipe to serve for weeknight dinner or for entertaining because it doesn’t take long to put together. Most of the work to make this recipe can be done up to two days in advance.
You can also make the sides and sauces in advance if you like. Better yet, you can purchase many of the accompaniments like pita bread, hummus, and tzatziki, making it that much easier to put on a lavish spread with little effort.
Do you cook or eat lamb regularly?
Most Americans either never eat lamb or eat it only rarely, perhaps while dining out. I used to be the same way, but then I discovered that lamb is surprisingly easy to cook and many cuts are quite affordable.
I can buy ground lamb at my regular supermarket for around $8 a pound (or at Grocery Outlet for around $6 a pound).
Cooking ground lamb is not much different from cooking ground beef, but in my opinion, it’s a whole lot more flavorful. If you haven’t cooked lamb before, this recipe is a great place to start.
More Middle eastern recipes you’ll love
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 cup cilantro
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1½ pounds ground lamb
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Toast the fennel and cumin seeds in a pan just
until starting to brown, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately transfer the seeds to a spice grinder and grind the seeds to a fine powder.
- Put the onion, garlic, cilantro, and mint in a food processor and process until very finely chopped.
- In a bowl, combine the lamb with the ground fennel and cumin seeds, coriander, salt, pepper, and the finely chopped herb mixture. Stir to mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Wrap the lamb mixture around wooden skewers (about 10 skewers) and grill them, turning every few minutes to cook all sides, over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, until cooked through.
1. If you don’t have a spice grinder, you can use pre-ground
spices, just reduce the amount to ½ teaspoon of each ground cumin and ground fennel seed. Or you can grind the seeds by hand with a mortar and pestle.
2. You can cook these on an outdoor grill or on a grill pan on the stovetop.
Amount Per Serving Calories 505Total Fat 34gSaturated Fat 14gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 17gCholesterol 165mgSodium 673mgCarbohydrates 5gFiber 1gSugar 1gProtein 43g
Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and manner of food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, freshness of ingredients, and other factors.