My Kofte bowl with warm spiced yogurt sauce is an uber comforting dinner made with Middle Eastern style lamb and beef meatballs over steamed couscous and smothered in warm savory yogurt. Mmmmmmm. This is a meal you can eat for days and not get bored.
A kofte bowl adds some Middle Eastern flair to your menu plan!
Did you catch my recent round up of International dinner bowls? I had such fun gathering together the delicious ways so many cultures make dinner in a bowl. But I realized that my Middle Eastern section was a little lean, so here’s a new one with a Turkish slant, with meatballs, no less!
Kofte is a general term for any number of ground meat dishes that are shaped into patties, balls, or cylinders. Turkish kofte from can be made with lamb, beef, or a combination, which I’ve done today. What I love most about kofte are the spices that go into the meat mixture. Forget about burgers and meatloaf, they don’t even compare to the flavor you get from this dish.
Ingredients for kofte meat mixture
- ground lamb
- ground beef (80/20 fat content)
- breadcrumbs (use almond meal for gluten free)
- fresh parsley and mint
- baking soda (this helps to lighten the meat mixture)
- lemon juice
Kofte meatballs have a sublime flavor thanks to a unique blend of spices and herbs.
The list may seem long, but you most likely have everything on hand, with the exception maybe of fresh mint. Fresh mint is the secret ingredient that brings these meatballs alive, so try not to skip it. The zippy flavor is a classic pairing with lamb.
Why do I mix lamb and beef in these meatballs?
I feel that lamb by itself is too rich and overpowering. But beef by itself can be a little dense and bland. The mixture is just perfect for a soft and pillowy meatball with tons of flavor.
Can you freeze kofte meatballs?
They’ll freeze beautifully, cooked, or un cooked.
- to freeze the raw meatballs, set them on a lined baking sheet and put in the freezer until hard. Then pack in heavy zip lock freezer bags and squeeze out any excess air before zipping closed. They’ll last 6 months.
- to freeze cooked meatballs, cool them completely, then pack in bags as above.
I spice the yogurt sauce with sumac, or aleppo pepper, either one works, so use what you can find.
Sumac is a middle eastern spice made from the berries of the sumac bush, it’s got a citrusy flavor, and is not hot or spicy. You might find it in better grocery stores, and you can always order it online.
Aleppo pepper is a Syrian ground pepper with a beautiful burgundy color that is moderately spicy. You will most likely have to order this online, unless you have access to a Middle Eastern market.
More meatball madness ~
- Chicken Parmesan Meatballs
- Spiced Lamb Meatballs with Hummus
- Zucchini Beef Meatballs
- Salisbury Steak Meatballs
- 5 Mouthwatering Cocktail Meatballs
- 1/2 lb ground beef (80/20)
- 1/2 lb ground lamb
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/4 of a medium onion, very finely minced (drain excess moisture)
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs (substitute almond flour or meal for gluten free)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cayenne powder (more to taste)
- 2 Tbsp very finely minced fresh parsley
- 2 Tbsp very finely minced fresh mint
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 cups cooked couscous (you can use rice as well)
- 2 cups whole milk yogurt
- 4 Tbsp tahini paste (add more to taste)
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp sumac or Aleppo pepper
- toasted pine nuts
- chopped parlsey and/or mint
- sumac or Aleppo pepper
- Put the meat in a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the beaten egg, breadcrumbs, drained onion, spices, and herbs. Stir together the lemon juice and baking soda and add it as well. Mix until everything is well incorporated. Cover well and chill the meat mixture for at least an hour, or overnight.
- Use a scoop to portion out the meat and roll into balls the size of large walnuts.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and brown the meatballs on all sides. Then turn the heat down, cover the pan and cook the meatballs for about 10 minutes, or until done throughout. Give the pan a shake or stir to rearrange the meatballs from time to time. An instant read thermometor should register 165F when inserted in the center of a meatball.
- Mix the yogurt with the tahini, lemon, and sumac or Aleppo pepper. Stir well. If the sauce seems too thick, thin with a little water. Add salt to taste. The sauce can be used cold or room temperature, but I like to gently heat it just before serving. This is best done in a small saucepan, VERY gently on the stove. Too much heat will 'break' the yogurt.
- Divide hot cooked couscous between four bowls. Top with meatballs, then add the warm yogurt sauce. Garnish with toasted pine nuts, fresh parsley and mint, and a sprinkle of sumac or Aleppo pepper.