I’ve never been a huge fan of lamb. The problem is, I often see photos of and recipes for lamb that look really tantalizing. (I feel the same way, only stronger, about goat cheese. I know, I know…)
While casually cruising around Kensington recently, I popped into Sanagan’s Meat Locker, an amazing hipster butcher (pardon the term), that we recently discovered. This is the kind of busy place that requires you to grab a number and await your turn. Once you have that little paper tab, things tend to move quickly. You are under pressure.
During this hasty moment, with endless options before me, I spontaneously bought some ground lamb.
Middle Eastern food and flavours are amongst my favourite, and many recipes call for lamb. So what the hell?
“I’ll make kofta!” I thought.
But alas, I didn’t have any wooden skewers, and couldn’t find any in a pinch. So instead of cooking these on a stick (!!) I made them into meatballs. They were equally delicious if not quite as fun.
I served them with spiced yogurt and paprika, a couscous salad and fried eggplant.
Lamb Kofta Meatballs with Spiced Yogurt
(Makes about 15)
- 1 lb ground organic lamb
- 1 shallot or 1/4 onion, chopped finely
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds (toasted) or 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 clove garlic, shredded
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons semolina (couscous) uncooked
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1.5 tablespoons dried mint
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 2 cloves garlic, shredded
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- Cup roughly chopped parsley and mint (fresh or dried)
- 1 tsp chives (fresh or dried)
- Mix all the ingredients of yogurt sauce first, and let sit in the fridge
- In small pan, lightly toast cumin seeds with slivered almonds (can also use pine nuts, which are more traditional)
- Combine lamb with all of the spices, onion, herbs, egg and semolina. Mix well with hands.
- Roll into small meatballs, being careful not to pack them too tightly. If you have the time,let them rest for 30 minutes or more refrigerated to let the flavours blend.
- You can either pan fry them or bake them. I fried them lightly over medium high heat (about two minutes) and then baked them on a tray at 300 for 10 ish minutes.
- You can also form them onto soaked skewers (fun!) and bake them that way.
This meal totally hit the spot. I fried up some eggplant (my new fave) dipped in egg whites, and layered it with raw cucumbers (a nice contrast of soft and crunchy), with a lemony couscous/tabouli hybrid salad. I drizzled the whole thing with fresh lemon juice and touch of olive oil.
The yogurt sauce was spicy and tangy and complimented the lamb very well.
These were a hit well worth repeating! They would also make great appetizers.
I may be a lamb convert yet. Stay tuned!