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Turkish Lamb Köfte

Scott Phillips

Servings: 4

Found all over Turkey and the Middle East, köfte (KOF-ta) are essentially meatballs, often made from lamb. They’re traditionally served with warm flatbread, raw onions, and plain yogurt, but they’re also delicious paired here with a bright, tangy yogurt sauce. The spice mix makes more than you’ll need—use it on beef, pork, and grilled vegetables, or stir it into hummus and other dips. You can make your own pomegranate molasses if you can’t find it in stores.


For the spice mix

  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 tsp. dried mint
  • 1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp. hot paprika
  • 1 tsp. cracked black pepper

For the pomegranate-yogurt sauce

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 Tbs. pomegranate molasses; more for serving
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tsp. ground sumac or 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

For the köfte

  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 1 medium plum tomato, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/4 cup finely grated red onion
  • 1 tsp. pomegranate molasses
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 8 12-inch flat, wide skewers (soaked in water for 30 minutes if wooden)
  • Vegetable oil, as needed
  • 2 Tbs. pomegranate seeds (optional)
  • 2 Tbs. small fresh mint leaves (optional)

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size 2 skewers
  • Calories (kcal) : 300
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 170
  • Fat (g): 19
  • Saturated Fat (g): 7
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 8
  • Cholesterol (mg): 80
  • Sodium (mg): 290
  • Carbohydrates (g): 10
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Protein (g): 21


Make the spice mix

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl.

Make the yogurt sauce

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl.

Make the köfte

  • Put the lamb, tomato, onion, pomegranate molasses, garlic, 1 Tbs. of the spice mix, and salt in a large bowl. Using your hands, mix until combined and the meat is a bit sticky. With wet hands, divide the lamb into 8 portions. Working with one portion at a time and rewetting your hands as necessary to prevent sticking, press the lamb around the skewers into sausage shapes about 4-1/2 inches long. Transfer to a baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 and up to 4 hours.
  • Prepare a medium-high (400°F to 475°F) gas or charcoal grill fire for direct grilling. Oil the grill grate. Grill the köfte, turning once, until no longer pink in the center (cut into one to check), about 6 minutes.
  • Garnish with the pomegranate seeds and mint, if using. Drizzle more pomegranate molasses over the yogurt sauce, and then serve with the sauce.


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