Kofte Kebabs With Spicy Harissa Yogurt Sauce and Grilled Flatbread (Minced Lamb Kebabs) Recipe

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Kofte kebabs have seasoning built right into them, packing more flavor in less time. It's the kind of thing that comes off looking and sounding very impressive, but is really no more difficult to make than a hamburger.

Note: Kofte Kebabs are traditionally made with lamb, however, ground beef or pork can be substituted. Harissa is a Tunisian spice pasted made from piri-piri peppers. It can be found in cans or bottles in most major supermarkets or specialty grocers. It's not in any way Lebanese, but I like the flavor it adds to the dish. If you can't find it, any fresh chili sauce will do, such as sambal oelek. Serve kebabs with yogurt sauce on boiled rice or with a grilled flatbread, such as this grilled naan.

Recipe Facts

Active: 30 mins
Total: 30 mins
Serves: 4 servings

Rate & Comment


  • 3/4 cup strained yogurt

  • 4 tablespoons harissa (to taste, see note)

  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced on a microplane grater (about 4 teaspoons)

  • 1 cup fresh mint or parsley leaves (or a mix), minced

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 pounds ground lamb or beef, at least 20% fat

  • 1 tablespoon red chile flakes

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 (2-inch) knob of ginger, grated on the medium holes of a box grater

  • 1 small onion, grated on the medium holes of a box grater (about 1/2 cup)

  • Thinly sliced red onions, soaked in cold water

  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges for serving

  • A handful of greens, such as arugula (optional)

  • 1 recipe grilled naan, or store-bought flatbread warmed on grill


  1. Soak 12 large bamboo skewers in water (unless using metal skewers). Combine yogurt, half of harissa (more or less depending on spice tolerance), half of garlic, and half of herbs. Whisk to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper.

  2. Combine lamb, chili flakes, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, onion, remaining garlic, remaining harissa, and remaining herbs in a large bowl. Season with salt. Work the meat together with your bare hands until homogenous, then pull off a small piece and place it on a microwave safe plate. Microwave on high power until cooked through, about 15 seconds. Taste meat and add salt as necessary. Repeat the tasting process until seasoned to your liking.

  3. Working with wet hands, divide meat into twelve balls. Roll each ball into a long sausage-like shape, then insert skewer through center of each kebab.

  4. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate.

  5. Place kebabs directly over coals. Cover and cook until well-charred, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip kebabs, cover, and cook until second side is well-charred. Remove cover, transfer kebabs to cooler side of grill, cover, and continue cooking until desired doneness is reached, about 2 minutes more (you can tear off a piece of one to check). Transfer to a large plate and let rest for 3 minutes.

  6. Serve kebabs with lemon wedges, sliced onions, greens, and yogurt sauce on boiled rice or with a grilled flatbread, such as this grilled naan.

Special equipment

Grill, metal or wooden skewers

This Recipe Appears In

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
752 Calories
50g Fat
15g Carbs
61g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 752
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 50g 63%
Saturated Fat 19g 96%
Cholesterol 222mg 74%
Sodium 1234mg 54%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 6%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 61g
Vitamin C 21mg 107%
Calcium 182mg 14%
Iron 7mg 37%
Potassium 1203mg 26%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)