Wednesday 21 March 2018

Forkful's easy suppers: Lamb Koftas

Lamb Koftas. Photo: Mark Duggan
Lamb Koftas. Photo: Mark Duggan

Aoife McElwain

For those of you who didn't get a taste of lamb over the Easter weekend, you might be interested in this week's recipe.

I've made some lamb koftas using lamb mince. It's not the most common of minced meats, but it's a great way to get the rich taste of lamb without the long cooking time. Ask your butcher for some lamb mince.

From some research I've done online, the leg of lamb appears to be favoured for high-quality lamb mince because it's typically a leaner part of the animal.

Koftas are a far-reaching food and are the name given to meatballs found in south Asian, Middle Eastern, Balkan and Central Asian food. This week's recipe is inspired by the Middle Eastern kofta and I've used spices from the region such as sumac and za'atar to maximise the Middle Eastern flavours.

You'll find sumac and za'atar in well-stocked supermarkets and specialist food stores.

I've paired the koftas with a very simple couscous salad, inspired by tabbouleh, the parsley and bulgur wheat salad.

I've put couscous, mint, tomato and cucumber together to create a fresh salad that will lighten up those koftas.

Also on the side are some lemony beetroots, made using pre-cooked beetroots. Feel free to roast from fresh if you have a little extra time.

Beetroots love lemon zest and the colour of this side dish makes for a pretty table. I've also added a garlic-laced sumac yoghurt as a kind of dipping sauce for the koftas.

An alternative approach to these skewers would be to use chunks of lamb leg, marinated and cooked under (or over) a grill.

If you've had your fill of lamb already this Easter, you can swap out the lamb mince for beef mince to create some beef koftas.

Lamb Koftas

Serves 2

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes


500g lamb mince

1 tablespoon of za'atar

1 teaspoon of ground cumin



200g couscous

Juice of half a lemon

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 tomato, diced

Half a cucumber, diced

Handful of fresh mint, roughly chopped

4 tablespoons of natural yoghurt

1 clove of garlic

2 ready-cooked beetroots

Zest of half a lemon

1 tablespoon of sumac


1. Make the koftas by mixing together the lamb mince, za'atar and cumin in a large bowl. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and mix well. Shape into koftas and place on skewers. Set aside.

2. Make the couscous salad by placing the couscous in a bowl. Cover it with boiling water and stir with a fork. Allow the couscous to stand for about five minutes or until the water has been absorbed. Add the juice of half a lemon and the tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and mix well with a fork. Add the diced tomato, cucumber and fresh mint.

3. Place the yoghurt in bowl and add the grated garlic clove. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and mix. Now place two heaped tablespoons of the garlic yoghurt on a small plate. Slice the beetroots into segments and place on top of the yoghurt. Use a small grater to grate the zest of half a lemon over the beets. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

4. Place the rest of the garlic yoghurt into a small bowl. Then top with a glug of olive oil and a pinch of sumac.

5. Finally, cook your koftas. You can cook them in a frying pan or griddle pan, under the grill or on a barbecue. They'll need about 6 to 8 minutes on each side. Serve them with the couscous, the lemony beetroots and the sumac yoghurt on the side.

This week's storecupboard essential:

Natural Yoghurt: When it comes to late spring, early summer, a dollop of yoghurt flavoured with grated garlic and spices elevates a simple speedy supper into a condiment-enhanced dinner. I'm a fan of Glenisk's natural yoghurt and Mossfield's Organic Natural Yoghurt.

Irish Independent

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