Allyson Gofton - Creative Koftas

Publish Date
Wednesday, 31 December 2014, 2:17PM
By Allyson Gofton


Kebab is a /Turkish Arab word, which originally referred to fried meat, has really been hi-jacked by English as a culinary term for chunks of meat…chicken, beef, lamb as a rule, grilled on a skewer with vegetables…onions, peppers and the like. It can be referred to as a shish kebab.

A shaslik is much the same thing, but the word originates in the Caucasus, itsigins in Armenia. It is thought that this method of cooking meat is very old in the Near East. This has been credited as possibly being attributable to the more urban way of life, where meat would have been bought from a butcher, as opposed to rural Europe, where it would have been more common to utilise the whole animal and roast the major cuts rather than chop them up.

A doner kebab is of Turkish origin and is applied to thin slices of marinated meat – lamb, chicken or beef, compressed into a solid mass on to a vertical roasting spit and sliced to serve. Over recent times, it has spread throughout Europe and made its way to the Antipodes (where it can be called souvlaki or gyros, depending on the ethnic origin of the maker) as a favourite fast food meal, served with pita or flat bread and a basic lettuce salad and sauce.

Kofta is another English word that has changed as the food made its way from Persia to India and, thence, westwards. Koftas are made from minced and well-pounded meat, again most popularly lamb but any meat may appear in its form. The term covers meatballs, rissoles and the like, usually spicy, sometimes mixed with rice, bulgur wheat or vegetables, although in Indian cookery they may be of vegetables or fish only. They can be fried, grilled, barbecued or cooked in a sauce and may have a spicy stuffing featuring nuts, cheese or eggs. As with other foods, they have varying versions according to country.

Pistachio and Pear Koftas
An abundance of variations exist for this idea and these koftas, in one shape or another, appear at our barbecues whenever we entertain. I simply peruse the pantry, gather up friendly flavours and stir them in. They are rarely the same twice!

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 15-18 minutes
Serves: 6-8

400-500 gram tub prepared, chilled falafel mix
500 grams lamb mince
1 egg
½ - ¾ cup pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
1/3 cup currants
1/3 cup diced dried pears or apricots
¼ cup finely chopped corainder roots and/or leaves

Mint and cumin yoghurt:
1 cup unsweetened plain yoghurt
2 tablespoons finely sliced fresh mint
1-2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted


  1. Mix together the falafel mix, lamb, egg, pistachio nuts, currants, pears or apricots and coriander.

  2. Mould half-cupfuls into sausage shapes around pre-soaked bamboo skewers. If time permits, refrigerate for 10 minutes to allow the mix to 'set'. Make the sauce in this time.

  3. Heat a well-greased barbecue hot plate and cook the koftas over a moderate heat for about 15 minutes turning regularly so they cook right through without burning.

  4. Serve on a bed of sliced tomatoes, scattered with crumbled feta cheese, black olives and watercress leaves. Accompany with the Mint and cumin yoghurt.

Mint and cumin yoghurt:

  1. Stir the yoghurt, mint and cumin seeds together and season with a pinch of salt or a squeeze of lemon juice.

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