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Lamb koftas with harissa dip

Updated: Fri, 19 March, 2021

Minced lamb shaped into koftas, ready for your next barbecue. What's missing? The harissa yoghurt sauce, the perfect complement for the koftas.

lamb koftas

The power of mince

Never underestimate the power and potential of minced meat. It’s not by accident that the most popular, vilified and addictive fast food chain offers burgers rather than, say, stew.

Take a slab of chuck steak and look at it closely: it is not very appealing, it is tough as an old boot and fatty with it. But if you put it through a mincer, magic happens. It transcends into a burger (hamburger or patty, as it is variously known too) which can be on par with an average steak tastewise, some will say.

Kebabs have their own aficionados that include people who wouldn’t look twice at the scrap ends of lamb that go into the doner. Meatfloafs and meatballs are fondly compared to 'how grandma used to make’.

And finally, sausages: can anyone resist them? True, some people (count me in that number) won’t fall in love with over-cerealed English bangers but if they look overseas, they will be won over by salamis, Toulouse, bratwursts and loukanikos.

lamb koftas with harissa yoghurt sauce

What is it about mince that's so appealing?

Either way, it must have been a genius who first came up with the idea of shredding some unsavoury raw meat and putting it back together to cook. Is it the tenderness of the minced product? Not sure, as salamis, saucisses and kabanos call for a strong set of teeth.

Is it the generous handfuls of salt that are usually thrown into the mince? Not salt alone, as some burger recipes tell you to only salt the patties when cooked. Is it because it’s cheap? Well – there’s cheap and there’s wagyu burgers.

lamb mince kebabs with harissa dip

What can you (not) do with mince!

Mince can be beef, pork, lamb, chicken and better-off-not-knowing. It is pressed and compacted into burgers and meatballs. It gets rudely squirted into gut casing for sausages. It may be nonchalantly thrown into a pan for patty melts or meticulously shredded by hand into a steak tartare.

It can be spicy, hellish hot, comforting, salty – or sweet, if we're mindful of whence mince pies came from. Mince makes a sauce, ragu, stuffing, filling or a roast. Mince, quite simply, rules.

greek style lamb koftas

So get yourself a pound of mince lamb or even better, put it through an old fashioned grinding machine yourself. Add an egg, or don't. Season copiously with herbs, or spices.

Salt and pepper, cumin and coriander, honey and tomato, Parmesan and anchovy, anything goes. Mix it, shape it, grill it or barbecue it and there it is. You don’t really even need my recipe, do you?

Lamb koftas with harissa dip

Servings: makes 6 koftasTime: 15 minutes plus chilling


  • For the koftas:
  • 500g (over 1 pound) minced lamb
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. tomato puree
  • 20g (2 tbsp.) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 tsp chili powder (depending how much heat you like)
  • a small bunch of parsley, very finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • zest grated from 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp. pine nuts, toasted and roughly chopped
  • For the harissa dip:
  • 250ml (1 cup) full fat or Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tsp harissa paste
  • a few mint leaves, torn


1. If you are using wooden or bamboo skewers to thread the koftas onto, soak them in cold water for at least an hour before cooking. Place the minced lamb in a large bowl.

2. Peel and pound the garlic and anchovies to a paste in a pestle and mortar with the salt and black pepper. Scrape it to the bowl with the lamb. Add all the other ingredients and mix the meat very well, best with your hands.

shaping koftas

3. Divide the mixture in six parts, about 100g each. With wet hands squeeze and shape each portion tightly around a skewer and form a fat sausage. Chill the koftas for at least an hour.

lamb kofta

4. To make the harissa dip, fold the harissa paste and the mint leaves into a bowl of yoghurt.

5. Cook the koftas on a barbecue or a preheated griddle until nicely charred on both sides; about 2-3 minutes each side. Serve with the dip, green or Greek salad and pita bread or rice.

Originally published: Wed, 6 June, 2018

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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