Cook the Book: Lamb Kofta

Cook the Book: Lamb Kofta

Since my friend came back from a trip to Turkey 3 years ago, every time we eat any kind of kebab together, he reminds me of how amazing the lamb kofta was—once he had his first bite of the spiced minced meat doused in bright tangy yogurt and smoky hot sauce, it was all he wanted to eat for the rest of the trip. Each time he tells me about it, I just get jealous and start secretly planning my own trip to this wondrous land of delicious meat and yogurt. Since his return, his Mom has tried to recreate the dish, but it has yet to live up to the kofta of his dreams. I think I’ll send over the recipe I found for lamb kofta from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The New Classics and maybe I’ll give it a shot to satisfy my own kofta cravings. It might seem like an unlikely source, but I have faith in the Martha Stewart test kitchens. The recipe is listed as a starter, but I’d also stuff them in a pita with all the extras, especially the yogurt mint sauce. Hopefully, this will satisfy me until I can make it over to Turkey and eat all the kofta and doner kebabs I can get my hands on.

  • Yield:6 to 8


  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 4 teaspoons Spice Mixture (recipe follows)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 onion, grated on the large holes of a box grater (1/2 cup)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Yogurt Mint Sauce, for serving (recipe follows)


  1. 1.

    1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the oil and yogurt sauce. Mix thoroughly with your hands or a wooden spoon. Form the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls, and flatten the balls into ovals or football shapes, about 1/4 inch thick.

  2. 2.

    2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add half the lamb patties. Cook until the first side is golden brown, about 3 minutes; flip the patties, and cook 2 minutes more. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.

  3. 3.

    3. Wipe the skillet with a paper towel; heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil. Repeat the process with the remaining lamb patties. Serve warm or at room temperature with yogurt sauce on the side.

  4. 4.

    Spice Mixture

  5. 5.

    - makes 1/4 cup -

  6. 6.

    4 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander

  7. 7.

    4 teaspoons ground cumin

  8. 8.

    1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

  9. 9.

    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  10. 10.

    1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

  11. 11.

    1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  12. 12.

    Mix the spices together in a small bowl or container. Store, tightly sealed, at room temperature up to 3 months.

  13. 13.

    Yogurt Mint Sauce

  14. 14.

    - makes 1 cup -

  15. 15.

    8 ounces plain whole-milk yogurt, preferably Greek-style

  16. 16.

    3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

  17. 17.

    1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

  18. 18.

    1 small garlic clove, minced

  19. 19.

    Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, and stir well to combine. Sauce can be made up to 1 day ahead; store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Serve chilled or at room temperature.