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Gorgeous Grilled Garlic Koftas


Lamb koftas are one of those dishes that Kebab houses and vans manage to wreck so frequently.  A charcoal grilled delight that should be soft, moist and yummy is often dry and tasteless and if it is moist, that is because it has been kept warm in a warming dish for the last half hour. Worse still are the infamous garlic koftas – exactly the same beast, but with garlic powder added! Who on earth invented Garlic Powder? It is revolting.

Unless you go to places like Efes in Great Titchfield Street, London (I used to live opposite them and found out recently they are now close), or Topkapi in Marylebone High Street (also closed!), another favourite of mine, getting a decent kebab of any sort anywhere is a problem. So, if in doubt, make you own. Koftas, which tend to be lamb, can be mixed with anything – including nuts and herbs. I haven't nuts in the cupboard so I will just go with the herbs. Best served with a little Meze, in my opinion.

I always associate these with Turkey, but actually, you find them all through the Middle East in one form or another – just a wonderful use of minced lamb, at the end of the day


Chop up everything coarsely (except the minced lamb and oil, obviously) and mix together, making sure it is evenly mixed.

Mix in with the minced lamb, kneading it all together until it is properly mixed through. Wet your hands with cold water and take a handful of the lamb mixture. Press around a metal (not wooden) skewer until you get an even sausage shape – the impressions from your fingers can help with the look.

Brush with a little oil and put into the fridge for a couple of hours to think about life while you run off and make some pita or something.

Prepared kofta kebabs ready for cooking

You can grill these, fry these or barbeque them over charcoal (not gas – waste of time that.) The bbq is best, but failing that get your grill really hot. Hot cooker grill, but medium heat bbq – if you put them on too hot a bbq they will dry out. That applied to most things, by the way. If you are cooking under the grill, brush them with a little more olive oil, but you probably won't need to do that for the bbq.

Cook till they are only just cooked through – again, you do not want them dry out. Serve and eat with Meze.

A very basic meze of olives, peppers, onions and salad

One trick on the BBQ is to place an old, small roasting tin on top of them. The guys at Efes used to do this to reflect the heat back down. It sped up cooking without running the grill at too high a heat. Works well.

To be honest, these do not keep warm well or heat up well. So make sure you have everything else ready so you can take them straight off the skewers and onto your guests’ plates. NEVER serve them on the skewers! That is how your guests get burned hands!

As a variation, add pine kernels or other nuts, or even fruit – dried apricot in there is wundebar!


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