Monday, March 26, 2012

A Kefta Recipe

Made all over the Middle East and called by a variety of names, kefta are lightly spiced, aromatic lamb meat balls, and are a guaranteed hit with any audience (even the most lamb-resistant). Traditionally, kefta are grilled, but as many of us apartment-dwellers don't have access to grills, the following recipe has been adapted for an oven.

2 lbs ground lamb
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 tbsp flat-leaf parsley
3-4 tbsp cilantro
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp dried red chili powder (I use chipotle, but cayenne is also acceptable)

Combine all ingredients except the lamb in a food processor and puree. The result should be very green and relatively thick.

Combine the vegetable and spice mixture with the lamb in a large bowl. I find that in order to get a consistent mixture, you need to mix by hand, which of course gets your hands very, very lamb-y. When you've mixed them fully, roll them into small meatballs about the size of a walnut. Evenly space them on a cookie sheet or in a baking dish.

Place in preheated oven and cook at 400 for 20-25 minutes, until meatballs attain a pleasant firmness. Finish under the broiler for about 5 minutes, or until the meatballs are lightly browned.

Though not a traditional topping for kefta, I find that they go very well with muhammara. The contrast of the sweet meat and light spices with the tang of the pomegranate is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.