Kofta Kebabs are a popular and flavorful Mediterranean street food. Ground beef and lamb are flavored with aromatic spices and fresh herbs and pressed onto skewers before being grilled over charcoal. Serve with creamy tahini sauce and sumac onion salad.
What is Kofta Kebab
If you break down the words, kofta translates to ‘spiced meat” and kebab is ‘something grilled’. Here we are using a combination of ground beef and lamb and flavoring the meat with loads of aromatic spices, including paprika, sumac, cumin and fresh parsley.
Turkish Kebabs are the perfect Weeknight Grilling Recipe
We grill a LOT in the summer time, and I mean a lot. Everything from grilled salmon to grilled steak. There’s something about the smell of wood burning charcoal that instantly puts me in the right mood.
What makes these kebabs so attractive for weeknight cooking is the ease of preparation. You basically add all ingredients to a bowl, mix and let sit.
Kebab Ingredients and Flavorings:
Ground Meat: both ground beef (80/20 ratio) and ground lamb are used in this recipe, equal amounts of each but you can use all or either.
Garlic: chopped very finely or grated using a microplane.
Spices: Turmeric, cumin, paprika, sumac, Aleppo pepper.
Tomato Paste: very common in Turkish cuisine and offers a hint of sweetness.
Fresh Herbs: Parsley and mint is used in this recipe, however everything from chives, thyme and cilantro would be lovely as well.
Form the Kebab onto Wide Flat Skewers
The most laborsome is forming the mixture onto skewers. Wide flat skewers like these are traditional when making kebabs, but I have been using these OXO skewers that work well. Just take your time making sure the meat mixture adheres to the skewer.
As youre forming the mixture onto the skewer, use your hands to evenly distribute the mixture onto the skewer and use your hands to gently press the meat together. Then at the very end, use your thumb and forefinger to press indentations the length of the kebab.
And of course if skewers aren’t available, you could also make them into small burger or meatball shapes instead.
What to Serve Turkish Kebabs with:
Drizzle kebabs with creamy tahini sauce (shown in the photos).
Place kebabs inside homemade pita bread.
Serve with Israeli chopped salad on the side or tucked into the bread with a drizzle of the creamy tahini sauce (ohhh yaaa!)
Grilled kebabs are fantastic with crunchy sumac onion salad shown in photos).
Turkish Kofta Kebabs (Grilled Beef and Lamb Skewers)
- 1/2 pound ground beef 80/20 ratio
- 1/2 pound ground lamb
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon sumac
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or pinch of red pepper flakes for heat
- Small bunch of fresh mint and parsley chopped finely
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- Olive oil for drizzling on pan/grill/indoor grill
- In a bowl, combine ground meats and all the spices and herbs except for the salt.
- Mix everything together very well until the meat mixture becomes “sticky” and let marinate for 15 minutes.
- Season meat mixture with salt and mix again.
- Using metal skewers (or you can form into meatball/disc shapes), take ¼ of the mixture and form into an oval shape. Place meat on the skewer and use your hands to firmly press the kofta onto the skewer into a long, oval and flat shape. You can also your use fingers to form crimps for texture and looks.
- Lightly oil the grill (or indoor grill pan, if using) and on medium-high heat, grill the kofta until the first side is lightly charred (about 4-5 minutes), then turn over and continue cooking the other side.
- Once kofta are cooked, remove from grill and place directly on lavash or pita bread so the meat juice can soak onto the bread.
- To serve, drizzle tahini sauce over kofta and top with sumac onion salad.
Sumac Onion Salad
- Add all ingredients to a bowl and toss to combine.
- Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed (more salt or more sumac, for example).
- Let marinated while you prepare the rest of your meal.