A few weeks ago I read about a lamb kofte recipe that used pistachios in its mix. I was making kofte for kebabs before going out, but was feeling a bit stingy, so didn’t splash out on nuts and just made them spicy. However, there was unfinished business with nuts and minced meat.
I volunteered to make meat patties for an occasion prompted by the warmer weather mid-week. Despite the fact that, by Friday evening, the warmth had vanished, the menu remained very much geared towards eating outside. Zoe made Turkish tomato salad with mint, feta, cucumber and tomato and the lamb was intended for a barbecuing. To this, we had roasted sweet potato chips with dill yogurt dip (2 tbsp chopped dill, pinch of salt, squeeze of lemon and 3tbsp yogurt), grilled green Turkish chilli peppers, and a green salad.
Tim, who was one of the party, is a big fan of a rice dish that I made last summer on a holiday to a watermill on the river Avon. I don’t see Tim very often, but every time I do, he mentions the rice dish (which is written up here). So, knowing that he would be there on Friday, I used the same flavourings in the lamb patties: toasted nuts, sultanas, cinnamon and softened onions. Thinking that they would need something to cut through them, I made a smooth spicy tomato sauce by using tinned tomatoes, then quickly whizzing with a hand blender – which is worth it I think – making sure the spicing is well distributed through the sauce, and that there are no errant lumps tomato.
Served 5, with leftovers
1kg lamb mince
1 handful, pine nuts
1 handful, almonds, chopped up small
1 leek, or onion, finely diced and sweated in a knob butter until soft
2 teaspoons, cinnamon
very large pinch, salt
handful, sultanas, soaked in hot water for 10 mins then chopped a bit
large knob of butter
Hot Sweet Tomato Sauce:
2 tins, chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons, olive oil
1 tablespoon, honey or maple syrup
2 cloves, finely sliced garlic
1 hot red chilli, chopped
1 teaspoon, cumin
1 teaspoon, ground coriander
1 teaspoon, smoked paprika
1 dessertspoon, vinegar
hefty pinch, salt
How to make:
Prepare all of your ingredients as indicated:
chop almonds and place in pan with cinnamon, pine nuts and a decent knob of butter and cook gently until the pine nuts are turning a touch brown; finely chop leek or onion and place in a pan to sweat gently for 5 minutes; soak sultanas in hot water for 10 minutes, then roughly chop.
Place all of these in a bowl with the lamb mince, and a hefty 2 pinches of salt (really – and it’s between 5+ people, so don’t worry), and a good grind of black pepper, and then mix well. Shape the lamb as you wish – into smallish balls or as I did, into the shape of extra large dates.
Turn the grill on high to heat up.
In a deep frying pan or sauce pan add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the garlic and spices for your tomato sauce. When the sauce is aromatic add the tomatoes.
Place all of the lamb patties on a grill tray and place under the heat. Turn after 4/5 minutes – depending on the size of our patties.
In the meantime, add the honey and vinegar to your tomato sauce. Cook for 5 minutes. Then add seasoning and check for spiceyness, if it needs more, add another chilli – it should have a kick. When you are happy with the seasoning, briefly whizz up with a hand blender until more or less smooth. Then taste again for seasoning.
Remove meatballs when cooked – be careful not to overdo them – they can be a touch pink in the middle.
Serve meatballs on a latter with some sauce over the top, and extra sauce in a bowl for serving.
See above in the picture – sweet potato chips with dill yogurt dip, Turkish tomato salad and a green salad. If the weather is good, you can barbecue the lamb for ultimate flavour, and put in a kebab.