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Dinner Tonight: Köfte Meatballs with Haydari

I don't cook enough meatballs. Sure, about once a year I'm struck with a nostalgic craving for the spaghetti and tomato sauce kind (one of the first proper things I learned to cook, which impressed my now-fiance to stick around as long as she has).

I make them with bread soaked in milk and lots of garlic, and think fondly about the opening scene of Big Night ("Sometimes the spaghetti likes to be alone.") But kebab-style meatballs, ubiquitous in Middle Eastern cuisine under the general moniker "kofta," are mostly unexplored territory for me. From Albania to Azerbaijan, there are tempting recipes, all of which require little more than mixing fragrant spices into the meat and whipping up a little sauce.

This recipe comes from the Australian food magazine Gourmet Traveler, as part of a larger Turkish mezze-style spread. I nabbed the köfte and haydari recipes, which is a sauce similar to Greek tzatziki but with the intriguing addition of walnuts. The resulting meatballs—a mix of beef and lamb redolent of cumin, coriander, and garlic—were quick and wonderful.

And I may never go back to simple tzatziki again. Though I was unable to find thick sheep's milk yogurt, the sauce was wonderful nonetheless.

About the author: Blake Royer founded The Paupered Chef with Nick Kindelsperger, where he writes about food and occasional travels. He is currently living for the year in Tartu, Estonia.

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