Lamb Kofta Kebabs with Tzatziki

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There’s a place called The Olive Tree. The Olive Tree is a Greek/Mediterranean Café that happens to serve the best kofta kebabs ever. They’re so good that I wanted to learn how to make them so that I could have them whenever I wanted. And I am sooo glad I did because these kofta kebabs– made with ground lamb, garlic, onion, and a ton of spices– are so juicy and flavorful that you won’t even feel bad that you’re eating a little lamb. And they’re even better with tzatziki, a greek sauce made with yogurt and cucumbers. After making this dish, you’ll feel like you belong in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Originally from Food Network [makes 4-6 servings]
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus a pinch
1 pound ground lamb
3 tablespoons grated onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Smash the garlic cloves, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt, and, with the flat side of a large knife, mash and smear mixture to a coarse paste. Mix the paste and the remaining 1 tablespoon salt with the meat, onion, parsley, and spices.
2. Line a pan with aluminum foil. Divide the meat mixture into 28 rough balls. Mold each piece around the pointed end of a skewer, making a 2-inch oval kebab that comes to a point just covering the tip of the skewer. Lay the skewers on the pan, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours. (Or just stick the balls on the stick like I did because it’s way easier.)
3. Heat a grill pan over medium heat or prepare a grill. Brush the pan lightly with olive oil. Working in batches, grill the kebabs, turning occasionally, until brown all over and just cooked through, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and serve with tzatziki and flat bread.

Tzatziki
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, halved, and seeded
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch
1/4 clove garlic
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dried mint, crumbled

1. If you’re using plain whole milk yogurt, line a small sieve with a coffee filter. Put the yogurt in it, set it over a bowl, and refrigerate 12 hours. Discard the expressed liquid and put yogurt in the bowl.
2. Grate the cucumber on the large holes of a box grater into another bowl. Sprinkle with the 2 teaspoons salt and rub into the cucumber with your hands. Set aside 20 minutes, then squeeze the cucumbers to express as much liquid as possible.
3. Smash the garlic, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt, and, with the flat side of a large knife, mash and smear the mixture to a coarse paste. Stir the cucumber, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and mint into the yogurt. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

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Indian-Spiced Vegetable Fritters with Lemon Curry Yogurt

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And now on to India! I wanted to make these because 1)fritters sound exciting 2)Indian flavors are amazing and 3)this is a type of food that I would usually never try. This recipe requires a lot of time with the grater, but it’s worth it! The fritters have a crispy exterior and although the vegetables are delicious alone, the lemon curry yogurt takes them to a whole new level with amazing flavors and a nice, acidic zest.

Originally from Smitten Kitchen [makes about 18 pancakes]
1 medium onion, peeled
1 large russet or Idaho potato, peeled
1 yam or sweet potato, peeled
1 large or 2 thin carrots, peeled
1 zucchini
4 large eggs
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
A pinch of cayenne
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 200°F. Place two nonstick baking sheets in oven.
2. Using box grater or food processor fitted with grating disc, coarsely grate onion, potatoes, carrot and zucchini and place in colander set in sink, setting aside to drain.
3. In large mixing bowl, lightly beat eggs. Whisk in flour, coriander, turmeric, and cumin. Mix in ginger, cilantro, and peas.
4. Press potatoes and onion to extract as much liquid as possible, then add to bowl. Season mixture with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Using wooden spoon or hands, mix well, but do not overwork.
5. In heavy-bottomed, 12-inch non-stick skillet over moderately high heat, heat 1-2 tablespoons oil or butter until hot but not smoking. Drop 4 scant 1/4-cup portions of potato mixture into pan and flatten with spatula to form four 3-inch pancakes.
6. Fry until bottoms are golden-brown (the color really counts on this; the darker you let it go, the more the pancake holds together – this goes for both sides.), 4 to 5 minutes, then turn over and fry until golden-brown and crisp, an additional 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain; season immediately with salt and pepper. Keep warm on baking sheets in oven while making remaining pancakes.
7. Using paper towels, carefully wipe out pan. And 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and fry 4 more pancakes. Repeat with remaining batter, wiping out pan and adding 1 to 2 tablespoons oil before each batch.
8. Serve pancakes hot with Curry-Lime Yogurt.

Curry Lime Yogurt
1 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
A squeeze or two of fresh lime juice, to taste
Salt and pepper

1. Mix all ingredients together! And that’s it!