Lamb & Apricot Kofta
|Our Christmas spread last year: roast, veg, gravy, |
biriyani, mac & cheese among others.
Hasty, blurry photos were taken,
but you can still see I burned some of the kofta!
Since moving to the UK, I've made it my mission to consume as many Christmas-style meals as possible during the month of December. I love cooking roasts and its accompaniments because I don't usually get to, and of course I love any kind of meal that brings people together. Last year I spent the holidays with friends, and we made a joint meal where I volunteered to do the roast and stuffing. The roast was a very simple affair - think normal Bangladeshi spicing on a chicken, marinaded overnight before going into the oven. The stuffing, however, was a little different - because basically it was this.
I think stuffing is traditionally made from breadcrumbs pimped up with herbs, spices and (usually) pork sausage. Most of us at the meal last year didn't eat pork, so I initially considered replacing it with another fatty minced meat. This line of thought eventually led me to kofta - and finally I decided I'd just make lamb kofta with some breadcrumbs and pass it off as stuffing. I added the apricots as I've been served stuffing with apricot before in British households, and I really enjoy the lamb and apricot combo. Once I'd decided on the apricot, I thought why not also use up the jar of Moroccan spices languishing in my cupboard, hence the ras el hanout. If you don't have ras el hanout at home just swap for powdered cumin and coriander seed.
These koftas can be deep-fried or roasted in the oven - do whatever suits your routine. Roasting makes them a bit drier, unless you do of course stuff them inside a roasting bird. I've given pan-frying instructions below to keep things simple. The breadcrumbs in the recipe below are definitely optional. As you'd expect, they give the koftas a heavier, drier feel. Without them, expect something meatier and bouncier. If you look at my recipe for beef kabab, you'll notice a lot similarities in both method and ingredients. Both dishes have the same roots, but the bread and beef creates a pate-like texture with bite, while the fatty lamb gives you a more squidgy, elastic end-result. The recipe below makes enough koftas to serve 4.
- 500.00 g of lamb mince
- 1.00 large onion
- 1.00 tablespoon of garlic paste
- 1.00 tablespoon of ginger paste
- 75.00 g dried apricot
- 2.00 tablespoons of supermarket ras el hanout (alternatively, use 1.00 tablespoon each of powdered cumin and coriander seed)
- Fresh parsley, a small handful
- Fresh coriander, a large handful
- Fresh mint, a small handful
- Breadcrumbs (optional), a small handful
- Grate the onion by hand or in a food processor
- Thoroughly mix all of the ingredients together, making sure that the herbs and spices are distributed evenly within the meat
- Form small sausage-like kofta shapes of the mixture, each about 4.00cm in length. Make sure they aren't too fat, or it will be difficult to get the middle to cook
- Put a frying pan on medium heat. Pour in enough oil so that the liquid is deep enough to submerge about half a kofta
- Once the oil is hot, add the koftas to the pan, being careful not to overcrowd the vessel. Unless the frying pan is massive, expect to cook the koftas in batches
- Fry the koftas on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes, then flip them over and fry for another 3-4 minutes on the other side
- When done, the koftas should be evenly browned. This can take practice - I've often cooked them too long and burned them black
- Also important - resist flipping them before 3-4 minutes have passed, as the meat won't have cooked and sealed, and the kofta could fall apart from the movement
- Serve the koftas hot with flat breads like naan or pitta
For easy variations, play around with the herbs and spices. And of course, omit the apricots if you don't like the sound of them! To cook these in the oven, pre-heat a fan oven to 200C, place on the middle shelf and cook for 25-30 minutes.