‘Kofte’ basically means ‘lamb meatball with herbs’, usually mint. ‘Muhammara’ is a Syrian red pepper spread made from roasted red peppers and pomegranate molasses. You can buy pomegranate molasses at Fairway, WholeFoods or any other specialty food store, or you could make your own by boiling down pomegranate juice to a syrupy consistency.
With this meal, I depart from my more typical New American/Mediterranean/Italian comfort zone to explore Middle Eastern cuisine (and to use up some extra flatbreads I had on hand!) The result was a delicious discovery of some new flavors and ingredients all of which I highly recommend trying.
I used a cast iron pan to brown my meatballs, which works really well in getting that nice caramelized exterior without the pan scorching before you’re done. Once browned on all sides, I removed them to a baking sheet and finished them in the oven, about 18-20 minutes or so at 400 degrees.
I also roasted my own pepper because it’s easy to do and I think it tastes better than store-bought, but you certainly purchase jarred roasted red peppers if you like. If you have a gas stove you can roast the pepper directly over the flame. If not, in my case at present, stick it directly under the broiler on a foil-lined baking sheet and turn it every 8 minutes or so until it’s blackened all over. Then immediately, using tongs, put it in a glass bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap to trap the steam for about 10 minutes. Remove, let cool slightly, and then peel the skin and scrape away the seeds. At this point the skin peels away easily leaving you with lovely strips of roasted pepper. Yum!
I added some sides to my spread not pictured here, including a mint yogurt (just mix greek yogurt with chopped mint and lemon juice) and hummus. Feel free to make the spread your own with your choice of accompaniments, such as cous cous in place of the flatbread for instance.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit magazine.
Lamb kofte with muhammara
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 1/4 cup mint, chopped
- 1/2 medium onion, finely minced or grated
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 Tbs Paprika
- 1/2 Tbs ground cumin
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- 2-3 Middle Eastern Flatbreads (not pita)
- 2 onions, thickly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, roasted and peeled, seeds discarded and chopped
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 Tbs pomegranate molasses
- 2 Tbs parsley, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. For Kofte, mix together mint, onion, garlic, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Gently mix in lamb just to combine. Roll into meatballs of desired size. Arrange on baking sheet.
3. Using cast iron or other skillet, brown meatballs on all sides in batches if needed so as not to crown the pan. Remove to clean baking sheet. Add onion to skillet and saute until soft and slightly caramelized, about 8 minutes. Add to baking sheet. Bake kofte and onions in oven about 18-20 minutes or until meat is cooked through.
4. Using same skillet used to brown meatballs, toast flatbread one at a time 30 seconds each side over medium heat. Remove to plates and top with kofte and muhammara (below).
For muhammara, add roasted peppers, pomegranate molasses and 2 Tbs water to a skillet. Cook until reduced by 1/3 and somewhat syrupy, approx 4 minutes. Mix in parsley. Transfer to small bowl.
Serves 2-3 main portions