These are the middle eastern version of meatballs, and in my opinion, far superior to what we often see in frozen packages in the “big box” stores. Blech. Yottam Ottolenghi has two GORGEOUS cookbooks, with his Palestinian childhood friend and partner, and is based in London. Oh how I wish I was able to drive to his store! Check out “Plenty” and “Jerusalem” on your favorite book site. Well worth the cost, if only to gaze at the fabulous photography.
~ 14 oz ground lamb
~ 14 oz ground veal or beef (I used grass fed ground beef)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
2½ tbsp toasted pine nuts, roughly chopped, plus extra whole ones to garnish
½ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped, plus extra to garnish (this is often called Italian Parsley, you can use regular parsley too)
1 T aleppo pepper or 1 large medium-hot red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
1½ tsp ground allspice
¾ tsp grated nutmeg
1½ tsp ground black pepper
1½ tsp salt
2/3 cup light tahini paste – you can buy this in most grocery stores now in the Middle eastern or Mediterranean foods section
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 medium clove of garlic, minced through a garlic press (do not use garlic powder, it will not taste the same!)
2 tbsp sunflower oil (can use canola or walnut if you don’t have sunflower)
sweet paprika, to garnish
Put all the kofta ingredients in a bowl and use your hands to mix everything together well. Now shape into long, torpedo-like fingers, roughly 3½ long — (about 2 oz each). Press the mix to compress it and ensure the kofta is tight and keeps its shape. Arrange on a plate and chill until you are ready to cook them. (Can chill for up to one day.)
In a medium bowl whisk together the tahini paste, lemon juice, water, garlic and a quarter of a teaspoon of salt. The sauce should be a bit runnier than honey; add one or two tablespoons of water if needed.
Heat the sunflower oil in a large frying-pan and sear the kofta over a high heat; do this in batches so they are not cramped together. Sear them on all sides until golden brown, about six minutes for each batch. At this point they should be medium-rare. Lift out of the pan and arrange on an oven tray. Then, put the tray in a 400 degree oven for 4-5 minutes.
Spoon the tahini sauce around the kofta, so it covers the base of the tray. If you like, also drizzle some over the kofta but leave some of the meat exposed. Place in the oven for a minute or two, just to warm up the sauce a little.
Scatter with pine nuts and parsley and finally sprinkle some paprika on top. Serve at once.
More about Yottam and Sami here on Gourmet’s website: When Yottam met Sami