This is your conscience speaking… cook Lamb Koftas….

When my youngest was a lot younger, she would rarely be direct about anything. If she wanted something out of the ordinary like some new clothes, or something ‘girly’ of which I probably would not approve, she would do something daft like write out a request (along with a smiley face) and slip it under the sitting room door. While she was a little thing and cute, those notes always got the desired result. As she has aged and the ravages of time have started to take their toll (she is 20 now), she trys more subtle methods of influencing me. 

A recent wheeze has been to hide in the room and say things to me in a ghostly voice. The latest incarnation of this was “Conor, this is your conscience speaking, cook Lamb Koftas on Sunday. Cooooook Lamb Koftaaaassss on Sundaaaaaayyy.” I’m a sucker for anything that makes me laugh. So last Sunday, I broke out the barbecue and despite the rain we had Giant Lamb Koftas with Mint Yoghurt, Pitta Bread and Mixed Salad.

Everything bar the lamb. I was proud of this shot even if I over-indexed on the skewers.

Here’s what you will need

  • 1 kilo of minced lamb
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato purée
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 onions
  • 6 to 8 cloves of garlic
  • A big handful of mint leaves
  • Salt & pepper
  • A tablespoon of chili flakes
  • A tablespoon of cumin seeds toasted and ground
  • A tablespoon of caraway seeds treated likewise

This is my second post in recent times with spices heating in the pan. I shot them again. Check for two kinds of seeds if you don’t believe me.

These are a graceless preparation in many ways. Lump everything into the mixer and combine.

This is the place for the obvious schoolboy humour. I will manfully resist saying anything.

The rain refused to stop. I thought I heard “This is your conscience speaking. Cook the dinner in the rain…”

Did I mention that it was raining? Well, it was. Not a deluge, nothing to get Noah herding the animals. But enough to get me wet as I scraped last year’s “I’ll do it later” off the grill. There is something enjoyable and manly about cleaning the barbecue as long as it is not raining. There’s no doubt that it’s women’s work when it is. However, my women (Wife, mother, daughters x 2 and dog x 1) all have too much sense to come out and help.

With the grill clean and hot (me the exact opposite on both counts), it was time to get the koftas underway. They take on a wonderful orange tint as the honey, tomato and spices combine to fill our neighbouring gardens with the aromas of tastiness.

These were the best I have ever made. Really tasty. Look at that orange glow. Mmmm.

When I barbecue, I do so in a peculiar way. Most men, beer can in hand, whack up the heat and burn the outside of everything, warming the botulism that resides within just enough to get it angry.

The gratuitous meat shot. Them on a plate, in the garden. And, yes, it was still raining.

“You can’t have Koftas without a drop of wine.” That was my conscience speaking.

I prefer to get the grill hot to burn off anything that should have been cleaned off earlier. (Every time I use the barbecue, I promise myself that I will clean the grill when I am finished. Maybe some day.) Then turn it down to minimum, or thereabouts, to do my grilling. The result is a lot less smoke in the chef’s lungs, far less manly spraying of Budweiser to quell the grease fire, less cursing by the chef, tastier food and no trip to hospital for the family.

I am a cautious person so I took the precaution of soaking my innards with alcohol, just in case my chefing skills let me down. This fine drop of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon stood up well to the complex flavours of the koftas. That complexity compounded by a mixture of mint leaves and natural yoghurt on the side.

The ‘Money Shot’. Lamb Kofta, mint yoghurt, salad and pita, just before being scoffed.

My conscience won out this time. I cooked in the rain to satisfy it. My life would be a little easier if I didn’t listen to my conscience so often. Then I think we could all say that, up to a point.

The recipe is a rough simulation of something found in this fine volume. I recommend it highly, even in this age of Epicurious and BBC Food online.

Praise where praise is due. The Barbecue book by Eric Treuillé & Birgit Erath published by DK is the best book on the subject and has something akin to my recipe within its pages.

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Latest comments
  • nothing beats the smell of roasting cumin seeds.

    • You can roast the when you are over. Looking forward to it.

  • Super.

  • Gorgeous plate.

  • The pictures make me salivate – the descriptions of BBQ-ing in the rain bring back other thoughts of a New Year’s eve party long ago – when it was truly raining.

  • Conor……you are so fuuunnny….(in that voice your daughter uses).
    Please…wriiite posssts like this evvvvery daaaaaay.
    Can’t beat a tasty kebob can you. My hubs wants me to make these this weekend. I told him, he needed to put a note under the door or say please in the funny ghosty voice. I am sure it will rain!

    • Thanks Connie. She is a funny thing and it works.

  • I made these myself not too long ago. I had made some pickled carrots with preserved lemon and some harrissa. I LOVE them. The kids enjoyed them too, which I guess surprised me, though I don’t know why. They have great taste 🙂

    • All kids who get quality food cooked for them end up with good taste, sooner or later. Usually, later.

      • LOL! They go from begging for sushi to refusing to eat homemade mac ‘n’ cheese. Kids.

  • Great post, and it looks delicious. A sense of humour seems to run in the family 🙂

    • Thanks Stefan. It was a good idea, despite the rain.

  • I have never had lamb koftas, but I think that is going to change soon thanks to you. Great looking meal.

    • They are really easy (as you can see) and amazingly tasty. You won’t regret trying them.

  • Conor these look amazing – your photographs are so clear and colourful – I look forward to your posts all week. Its BBQ weather over here in the UK and I am well tempted…

    • I cooked these a few weeks ago and it was awful weather. The weather is so good this week, I have taken a couple of days off to catch up on the neglected, rain soaked garden. Beautiful here too. 20 degrees plus. More BBQing on the way…

  • Love the story about your daughter…great looking food.

  • An insightful point about the BBQ cleaning thing. I hate my BBQ so much I took it round to my parents’ house and let them deal with it. The photography is becoming scarily good btw!

    • I ended up scraping the thing again this evening in advance of some awful pork chops. I blame Adobe Lightroom for the improvement in photos (thank you). I am learning it using A brilliant resource we have signed up to.

  • Oh yum… that’s all…. oh yum!!!

  • This was a superb blog and very moth-watering

  • O goodness me, I can just smell those lovely spices over the hot coals mixed with the lovely aroma of meat grilling, makes my mouth water! Cooooonor, come to South Africaaaaaa and do the Braai (BBQ) thingy hereeeeee! 🙂 At least your are guaranteed sunshine!

    All the best, off to make me a breakfast, you have inspired me just now!


    • Thanks Willie,
      We are experiencing some SA style weather at present. The Braai will be in action again over the weekend.

  • I was just thinking about koftas. Your honey/mint/chili/spice seasoning of the lamb sounds inspired – a step beyond the usual. Thanks, we’ll be trying these soon!

  • Love it! They look really good!

  • Too funny. That “I’ll do it later” stuck on the grill is always the worst. 🙂

    • There was more of it waiting for me this evening. A glorious day here in Dublin.

  • My boyfriend just bought some lamb, what a great to recipe to try… I’m making him make this!

  • I feel like a lot of people are intimidated by Caraway Seeds and love the addition of it here. Looks fabulous and perfect for Memorial Day =D

  • I have ground lamb but it is frozen so it will be steak on the grill tonight. I can’t wait to try your recipe…love the way you seasoned the lamb. Sorry you were wet and cold but I know you made your family very happy.

  • Conor,

    Thanks for that mouth-watering post! An enjoyable read and the photos are great. As you know the weather here in Ireland is just amazing so the perfect week to try this recipe.

  • I started with your recipe and did a hybrid beef and lamb for Memorial Day. YUM! Thanks. And on top of that it’s a fun post!

    • Thank you for the kind words. A beef lamb hybrid sounds interesting.

  • I love these! How delicious.

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