Quick and easy lamb meatballs and kofte kebabs

Whilst on vacation in Dalyan in southern Turkey I stumbled across a simple but delicious traditional Turkish dish that appeared to be very popular with the local Turkish people. The dish I discovered was what the locals called “meatballs” and whilst the meatballs back home are little more than processed rubbish, these were lamb meatballs that were totally different to any meatball I had ever eaten.

Lamb meatballs, also known as lamb kofte, are a Turkish speciality that is available all over Turkey.  These meatballs contain lamb kofte spice, and whilst I have scoured the internet for details on how to make the spice from scratch I have yet to find a recipe for it. Fortunately, it is possible to buy lamb kofte spice from a specialist spice shops in Turkey, or at home. Making the lamb meatballs is very quick and easy and you don’t need any specialist culinary skills. So, what ingredients do I need and how do I make the lamb meatballs?

In order to make lamb meatballs you will need five hundred grams of minced lamb, three slices of white bread, one finely chopped onion, one crushed clove of garlic, one beaten egg, a small bunch of chopped parsley, a teaspoon of kofte spice, half a teaspoon of cumin, a teaspoon of salt, half a teaspoon of black pepper and fifty grams of flour.

The first step is to put the minced lamb in to a mixing bowl. Next, soak the slices of bread in water for a few seconds before squeezing them in to wet dough. You need to squeeze out as much excess water as possible and crumble over the minced lamb. Add the rest of the ingredients to the minced lamb and bread before using your hands to knead the mixture in to smooth dough. Once the ingredients are thoroughly mixed together you need to shape the lamb meatballs. Meatballs are generally round however traditional Turkish lamb meatballs are finger shaped so make the lamb meatball mix in to thick fingers and then place on a floured tray ready for grilling on the barbecue.

Some homemade lamb meatballs ready to be grilled.

Raw meatballs waiting to go on the barbecueCredit: http://www.flixya.com/photo/2395459/Raw-Turkish-style-meatballs-ready-for-the-barbecue


A further traditional Turkish lamb meatball dish is fried lamb meatballs, which is known as Kuru Kofte. Fried lamb meatballs are a traditional dish at Turkish picnics and are as tasty cold as they are hot, where they are served in traditional Turkish restaurants with a portion of rice, a grilled tomato, a grilled long sweet pepper and some green salad with onion. Fried lamb meat balls are made in exactly the same way as the standard lamb meatballs, however they are cooked differently.

As the name suggest, fried lamb meatballs are cooked by frying them so pour a little oil in a non stick pan, heat up and place the lamb meatballs in the pan. The lamb meatballs need to be regularly turned during the cooking process to ensure they cook evenly all the way through. The lamb meatballs should be fried until they are light brown.

Another traditional Turkish lamb meatball dish is lamb meatballs in tomato sauce, which is known as domates soslu kofte. The basic lamb meatball mix is used to make lamb meatballs in tomato sauce however you also need to add some dill to the mix. Once the lamb meatballs have been shaped they need to be lightly grilled or fried in some butter or olive oil however It is important not to completely cook the lamb meatballs at this stage. Once the lamb meatballs are lightly cooked they need to be removed from the heat so you can make the sauce.

To make the sauce you need to soften two chopped onions in some butter or olive oil and then add two cloves of crushed garlic. Next, remove the skin from and four large tomatoes and chop before adding to the pan. Cook for a few minutes and then add a pinch of sugar, a pinch of salt, a pinch of black pepper, a tablespoon of tomato paste and a glass of water. Add the lamb meatballs and cook on a low to medium heat for fifteen to twenty minutes. In Turkey lamb meatballs in tomato sauce will be served with rice and grilled vegetables.

Some lamb meatballs cooked on the barbecue. Lamb meatballs can be cooked in a variety of different ways, however the barbecue is by far the best.

Turkish style lamb meatballs cooked on a barbecueCredit: http://www.flixya.com/photo/2395464/Cooked-Turkish-style-meatballs-or-Kofte-kebab

A further traditional Turkish lamb meatball recipe is “lady’s thighs lamb meatballs”, which are known as kadinbudu kofte. The lady’s thighs lamb meatballs got its name as a compliment to ladies, back in the day when they were well regarded if gently rounded.

Lady’s thighs lamb meatballs are traditionally served with rice, Turkish chips, a green salad and sliced tomato, and making this lamb meatball dish is, just like all the other type of lamb meatball dishes, easy to do.

In order to make lady’s thighs lamb meatballs you will need five hundred grams of minced lamb, fifty grams of rice, a cup and a half of water, one finely chopped onion, two tablespoons of butter, two eggs, a small bunch of finely chopped parsley, fifty grams of flour, salt, pepper and a cup of sunflower oil.  So, we have the ingredients required to make the lamb meatballs, but how do we make them?

The first step is to boil the rice in the water until tender and then drain. Next, put the butter in to a pan and melt before adding the onions and allow to soften. Once the onion is soft add half the minced lamb and stir until cooked. After half of the minced lamb is cooked remove the pan from the heat and add the rest of the minced lamb, the boiled rice, one beaten egg, the parsley, the salt and the pepper and then knead the mixture in to dough. Next, shape the lamb meatball mix in to small ovals and flatten in to a patty shape. Dip the ovals in to the flour and then in to the second beaten egg and fry in the sunflower oil on both sides until golden brown.

Traditional Turkish lamb meatballs are very tasty and with a few different varieties there is something for everyone. Making traditional Turkish lamb meatballs is quick, easy and the ingredients are readily available. So, for a traditional Turkish meal that can be cooked at home lamb meatballs you can’t go far wrong with lamb meatballs.