This Lamb kofta recipe is my new obsession right now. I love making this spread because it feels super fresh and light, but it packs a TON of flavor. The leftover Lamb Kofta we have is my favorite to eat the next day cold over a simple salad.
Today we put our Lamb Kofta over a bed of rice with some fun accompaniments like shredded lettuce with tomatoes and cucumbers. I also love getting some tzatziki in there too if you have it. This is one of those dishes where you can go crazy with the sides / accompaniments because it will probably all taste good with our Lamb Kofta. Use this as an opportunity to clean out your fridge!
What is Lamb Kofta?
Lamb Kofta is a dish made with ground lamb, lots of flavorful spices, and minced shallots or onions and garlic. It is then shaped by hand onto a skewer then grilled.
Is kofta lamb or beef?
Kofta can be made with a variety of protein including beef, chicken or pork. Sometimes a mixture of beef and lamb, or beef, lamb and pork are used. There are also vegetarian and seafood versions of kofta. Today we are using only ground lamb in our Lamb Kofta recipe because we love the texture and flavor.
Where is lamb kofta from?
Lamb Kofta is mostly associated with Middle Eastern cuisine, but the dish is actually found in a lot of different places. It’s not clear where Lamb Kofta specifically originated from. India, and Central Asia are among some of them. The dish varies depending on where it is from. Middle Easters koftas are usually made from lamb.
A lot of people ask if Lamb Koftas are Greek? There is a Greek version of Lamb Kofta. Greek or Balkin versions typically use beef, pork, and lamb together, or just one variety. In India, there are vegetarian versions of kofta prepared with ingredients like potatoes, banana, paneer, or calabash, and most often served with a curry or gravy.
How to make lamb kofta recipe
Preparing the lamb skewers to grill is super easy! Here are the steps:
- Sauté shallot, garlic and ginger. In a hot skillet sauté the shallot, ginger and garlic for 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add spices. Add cumin and coriander and continue to sauté.
- Cool shallot mixture. Remove shallot mixture from skillet and let cool.
- Mix ground lamb. In a large mixing bowl combine ground lamb, shallot mixture, parsley and mint. Season with salt and pepper. Mix until fully combined.
- Divide mixture to prepare for skewers. Divide mixture into 6 equal portions using wet hands. Form logs of the ground lamb approximately 1 1/2″ x 7″.
- Add the skewer to the meat. Press a skewer into the center of each lamb log and form the meat around the skewer until secure.
How to cook lamb kofta
Once you have your lamb skewers formed, cooking the meat is easy! If you are nervous, I would suggest getting a really nice instant read thermometer and checking to make sure your lamb kofta skewers read 160°F.
- Place a large grill pan over medium high heat.
- Brush with oil. Once pan is hot, brush the grill pan with oil.
- Add skewers to the grill pan. Add skewers to the grill pan 1″ apart.
- Grill skewers. Grill skewers on each side for 6 to 8 minutes, or until cooked through.
- Serve. Let rest for 5 minutes then serve.
How to cook lamb kofta in the oven
A lot of you ask: “Can bake lamb kofta?” Yes, you totally can bake lamb kofta.
Preheat oven to 350° F and line two baking sheets with parchment or aluminum foil for eat clean up. Place skewers on baking sheet an inch apart. and bake in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or until cooked through.
Lamb Kofta Outdoor grill
To make these on your outdoor grill pre-heat the grill to medium high. Cook each skewer on 6 minutes per site or until cooked through.
What to serve with Lamb Kofta
The best part of this Lamb Kofta recipe are all the accompaniments. I love the fact you can pick and choose from a big plate of delicious sides. My favorite thing to do is to make a Lamb Kofta taco. I wrap the kofta in pita and smoother it with tzatziki, and top it will lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Here is a list of really delicious pairing suggestions:
- tzatziki – the creamy sauce goes so well with the lamb
- sliced cucumbers – we love the crunch of the cucumber and bright flavor
- basmati rice – the aroma of basmati rice is a favorite of ours
- lettuce – shredded romaine lettuce! Just like from the cucumber, we love the crunchy texture and fresh, mild flavor, but you can use any lettuce of your choice!
- sliced tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes – the sweet acidity creates a nice balance from the lamb
- pita bread – we love stuffing everything into a nice piece of pita for the perfect bite. If you grill it, even better!
- fresh lemon to squeeze on top of everything
- chopped parsley – to garnish everything
- sliced red onion
If you don’t have skewers, or don’t want to fuss with skewers you can make these into meatballs. Roll them into meatballs and either bake them for about 10 minutes or until cooked through, or you can grill them, just like the skewers!
Use other kinds of lean ground meat – if you don’t like lamb, you can substitute for ground chicken, pork, or beef.
Tips and tricks
- Make sure to pre soak your skewers if you are using wood or bamboo. You don’t want them to catch on fire!
- Be sure to not over-mix the ground lamb mixture when you are combining all of the ingredients together. You still need to handle the meat to form the skewer, and over-mixing will cause the lamb to be tough.
- When you form the skewers, we find it easiest to have a bowl of water next to you so you can dip your hands in it while forming the skewers or meatballs. This will help the meat mixture not stick to your hands.
- If you are nervous about cooking meat, we get it! It’s always such a bummer to under cook or over cook your meat. We suggest you invest in a nice instant read thermometer. The thermapen I linked to is expensive, but so so worth it! For ground lamb, you want an internal temperature of 160°F.
- 6 bamboo skewers (12” long and 1/2” wide), soaked in water (~30 minutes)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
- 1 small shallot, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 pound ground lamb
- ½ bunch parsley, finely chopped
- ¼ bunch mint leaves, finely chopped
- salt and cracked black pepper to taste
- Place small skillet over medium-high heat. Once skillet is hot, add 1 teaspoon oil.
- Add shallot, garlic and ginger to skillet and saute for 4 to 5 minutes. Add cumin and coriander and continue to saute for 1 minute. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
- Remove shallot mixture from heat and slightly cool, about 10 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl combine ground lamb, shallot mixture, parsley, and mint. Season with salt and cracked black pepper and mix together until fully combined.
- Divide mixture into 6 equal portions and with wet hands form each portion of lamb into a 1 ½” by 7” log. Press a skewer into the center of each lamb log and form the meat around the skewer until secure, leaving about a 4” handle on the bottom and a 1” handle on top.
- Place large grill pan over medium-high heat. Once pan is hot, brush with remaining oil and add skewers, about 1” apart.
- Grill skewers on each side, for 6 to 8 minutes or until just cooked through, with nice grill marks. Remove from heat, transfer to a platter with a bed of basmati rice and a romaine, cucumber and tomato side salad and hummus of choice. Serve.
- *Makes 6 (7” each) Kebabs