Monday, August 11, 2014

Moroccan Grilled Lamb & Beef Kefta with Tahini Sauce

Kefta is traditionally a meat mixture, often of beef or lamb, mixed with savoury spices like cumin, paprika, and even a bit of cinnamon for some warmth. There are hundreds of varieties of meatballs – kofta in Arabic and ktsitsot in Hebrew – each with its own unique heritage and specific preparation technique. You can form them into round meatballs, flat patties, thin fingers or more commonly, into torpedo-shaped kebabs that are perfect for wrapping up inside of a pita or serving with any kind of warm flatbread. In this Moroccan-inspired version, the ground beef and lamb are seasoned with a combination of spices, finely chopped onion and fresh herbs. Although some recipes suggest adding breadcrumbs or eggs to bind the mixture, it's not wholly traditional. Chilled for an hour or so before cooking, the kefta are grilled for 10-15 minutes over medium heat until just they're cooked through and beautifully golden brown. Served with flatbread or with quinoa, couscous or crunchy cucumber and tomato salad and a heaping bowl of tzatziki, Kefta are healthy, delicious and bursting with flavour.

Ground lamb and beef is combined with fresh cilantro, fragrant spices, minced garlic, 
chopped onion, Harissa and pine nuts

The ingredients are mixed together using your hands until it's all well combined

The kefta are formed into 3-inch long torpedo-shaped kebabs, 
then covered and chilled for a few hours

Kefta grilled on the BBQ with melted ghee brushed overtop 

Moroccan Grilled Lamb & Beef Kefta with Tahini Sauce & Pomegranate
Serves 6

2 lb ground minced lamb and beef
1 cup loosely packed chopped cilantro
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp sweet paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tbsp salt
1 cup finely chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp Harissa paste
1/3 cup pine nuts

Tahini Sauce:
2/3 cup light tahini paste
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 medium clove of garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp unsalted butter or ghee, melted- optional
1 cup pomegranate seeds 
1 tbsp each of cilantro and pine nuts

Put all the kofta ingredients in a bowl and using your hands, mix everything together well. Shape into long, torpedo-like fingers, about 3-inches long and about 2 1/4 oz each, making sure to press the mixture together to ensure the kofta are tight and keep their shape. Arrange on a plate, cover with cling film and chill until you're ready to cook them, up to one day ahead.

For the sauce, whisk together the tahini paste, lemon juice, minced garlic, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 cup of water in a medium sized bowl. The sauce should be a bit runnier than honey, so add one or two tablespoons of extra water if needed, then cover and set aside.

To barbecue outdoors, preheat the grill to medium and cook the kefta for about 12-15 minutes, or until nicely browned all over but still lovely and juicy on the inside. If you like your meat more well done, continue cooking on the grill until your preferred level of doneness. 

To cook indoors, preheat oven to 425°F. Heat 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil in a large non stick frying-pan and sear the kefta in batches over high heat, making sure they're not bunched together. Sear them on all sides until golden brown, about 6-10 minutes for each batch for medium-rare. For medium or well-done, place the kefta on a baking tray and cook in the oven for another 2-4 minutes.

To finish, melt the ghee in a small saucepan and allow to brown a little, taking care that it doesn’t burn. Spoon the butter over the kofta as soon as they come out of the oven, or baste on the grill as the kefta are cooking. 

To serve, arrange the kefta on warmed platter and drizzle with some of the Tahini Sauce, a sprinkle of fresh pomegranate seeds and garnish with extra cilantro and pine nuts. Serve at once with any remaining sauce on the side.