A little bit kofta, a little bit gyro- these ground beef kebabs with yogurt dipping sauce have all the fresh herbs you want in a summer time grill with just a hint of the warm spices you traditionally find in kofta. Addictively good, on the grill or on a grill pan, with a healthy heap of tangy yogurt sauce and a fresh round of flatbread. Make it a complete meal with the easy addition of cucumber or a cucumber tomato salad.
kofta, defined as:
(in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking) a savory ball made with minced meat, paneer, or vegetables.
From Urdu and Persian koftah ‘pounded meat’.
I don’t want to depress or bore you with a definition of kafkaesque but these two articles have an interesting take:
from the guardian on how the word has lost its meaning (I’m not helping that)
thoughts and substitutions for Kofta-esque: ground beef kebabs with yogurt dipping sauce
- worried about the kofta falling apart on the grill? some recipes call for fillers like egg or bread crumbs but I avoided that here wanting a more burger like experience. you can freeze the kebabs for a bit before you place them on the grill to help them stay together like my niece did when she tried the recipe (thanks for the tip E 😉 Also the smaller the kebab the more control. If your skewers are longer you can segment the kebab into two parts and flip half at a time if neccessary.
- Want some of that flat bread too? You should it’s amazing on the grill. I use this recipe through step 2 but instead of making one loaf shape the bread into 8-10 balls and roll out to about 1/2 inch thick. Allow to rest for about 15-20 minutes and then grill. (this could become a recipe on it’s own sometime soon. I’ll keep you posted)
- No grill? These kofta can also be cooked in a cast iron pan or grill pan (as can the flat bread). For this I usually dispense with the skewer.
- Traditionally kofta has ground lamb in addition to or instead of ground beef. I was making these for a crowd and ground beef was on sale so I went that way. I also went with a fattier grind because I feel like you have more room for error in over cooking and still having a juicy tender kebab with the richer grind.
- I use labneh because I love its consistency and tangy goodness but if you can’t easily purchase said labneh sour cream or greek yogurt are good substitutes- though ironically most sour creams are not as sour (which is the primary reason I’ve switched to cultured milk products instead)
- the ingredient list and amounts for the yogurt dipping sauce are a little vague because this is the sort of thing I like to do to taste- a little citrus, a little vinegar, a little heat. sometimes fresh parsley (mint would also work if you don’t have a household member with an aversion), sometimes instead of salt I’ll add a little crumbled feta instead
- 1.5-2 pounds ground beef I used 85/15, a leaner ground might produce different results
- 1 small onion- roughly chopped
- 1 TBSPS about 3 cloves, garlic- roughly chopped
- 1 cup loosely packed, parsley- roughly chopped
- 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp diamond kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon each of cayenne coriander, cumin, and black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons Labneh or greek yogurt
- 3/4 cup labneh
- 1/4 cup yogurt
- 1-3 cloves garlic minced or pressed through a garlic press
- about 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice the juice from 1/2 a large fresh lemon
- 1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar I subbed some of this for the yuzo hot sauce from trader joes
- a pinch of salt
- pepper flakes to taste
- Soak 10 wooden skewers in water for about 1 hour; remove from the water when you are ready to begin.
- Make the tangy dipping sauce by combining all the ingredients together in a bowl and mixing well, set aside
- In a food processor, chop the onion, garlic, and parsley into tiny bits.
- Add the beef, labneh, and the spices. Process until well combined, forming a pasty meat mixture.
- Remove the meat mixture from the food processor and place in a large bowl. Take a handful of of the meat mixture (about 1/3-1/2 cup) and mold it on a wooden skewer. Repeat the process until you have run out of meat. For best results, make sure each kofta kebab is about 3/4 inch in thickness.
- Lay the skewered kofta-esque kebabs on a tray lined with parchment paper
- Place the kebabs on a lightly oiled, pre-heated grill. Grill on medium-high heat for 4 minutes on one side, turn over and grill for another 3-4 minutes.
- Serve the kofta kebabs immediately.