وفته kufteh In Search of the perfect………….Kebab!

I love a Kebab, the only issue I have is that they are typical a bit bland, covered in a ‘not very nice’ tasting Tomato Chili sauce and the meat origin is suspect. This is a generalization as I have had some awesome Kebabs, but whilst dining in a half decent restaurant. This post is the result of some creative I have been working on over the past few months, and uses some unusual and exotic spices to create an amazing flavour. I cannot repeat/print what the boss said last night as we were munching our way through them but it was highly commendable 😉


For me, food is about what you see, smell, taste and FEEL. Texture is important when eating, and this version of the popular take-away will have you wondering why you did not make them yourself before. I will start with the ingredients, you may need to invest in some of them as they are not found in your typical supermarket, but are readily available from my favourite suppliers such as Ottolenghi’s and Steenbergs, once you have tried this dish, you can experiment with other Middle Eastern Delights!

For the Kebab

  1.  500 grms Lamb Mince
  2. 1 Red Onion
  3. 1 Clove Garlic
  4. 1/2 tsp. Anardana
  5. 1 tsp. Sumac
  6.  1 tsp. Aleppo Pepper
  7. 1/2 tsp. ground Cumin
  8. 1 tbsp. ground Coriander powder
  9. 1 tsp. Ground Ginger
  10. 1 tsp. Thyme
  11. 1 tsp. Peppermint
  12. 1 tbsp. Dukkah
  13. 1 tsp. Pomegranate Molasses
  14. Zest of 1 lime
  15. 2 tbsp. dried Barberries

For the Red Onion Relish

  1. 1 Red Onion
  2. 2 tbsp. White Wine Vinegar
  3. 2 tbsp. Castor Sugar
  4. 60 ml Rapeseed Oil
  5. 1 tbsp. Poppy Seeds

For the Mint Yoghurt Dressing

  1. 250ml Greek Yoghurt
  2. 2 tbsp. Dried Mint
  3. 1 tsp. Sumac

To Serve

  1. 1 Baby Gem Lettuce, Leaves separated and halved lengthways
  2. 2 Tomatoes, sliced and sprinkled with some Sea Salt,  covered in 1/2 small bunch Chopped Coriander
  3. Pitta’s Grilled and Cut width ways to form pockets


Part of the secret of this dish (it’s probably not a secret really, but the phrase sounded good at the time of writing!), is to cook the Onion and Garlic/Spice mix first, and add It to the meat when cooled, to marinade. So cut the Onion finely and cook in some Butter and Oil (or Ghee), on a lowish heat for at least 15-20 minutes, then add a splash of water and continue to cook, until the Onions are soft, melting and sweet, about another 15-20 mins. Crush a clove of Garlic and add to the Onions cooking for 2-3 mins then add all the other herbs and spices, fry for 2 minutes more then take off the heat, add the dried barberries, Lime Zest, Pomegranate Molasses, stir and leave too cool.

WP_20140126_17_26_37_ProWhen the mixture has cooled, mix well into the Lamb mince, cover and pop into the fridge for at least a couple of hours, half way through, take out and mix again, making sure the Onion/Spice is well distributed.

The accompaniments make this special, a simple dressing of Yoghurt and lots of dried Mint, with some Sumac sprinkled on top, and for me, a killer Onion Relish which is dead easy to make, and comes from one of Yotam Ottolenghi’s salad recipes which I have posted before. Thinly slice the Onion and place in a bowl. Dissolve the Sugar in the White Wine Vinegar and add to the onion, mixing well, then add the Rapeseed Oil, using your fingers to blend everything together, then finish by adding the Poppy Seeds and set aside for at least an hour (in the fridge).

The Lamb Kebabs need to be gently fried, about 3-4 minutes each side. To Serve, take a halved Pitta, opening up the large end, pop in 2-3 pieces of lettuce, some of the Onion Relish, some of the Tomato and Coriander Slices, pop in a Kebab and spoon on some Yoghurt Mint dressing.


A simple dish to make but packed with flavor and texture, its well worth investing in some new and unique spices to make this dish. I started my culinary journey when I was seven, but only really discovered the delights of Middle Eastern flavours in recent years, and I am so glad I did. Using Cold, Hot, Piquant and Spicy really makes this dish stand out, its not Chili Hot, so you experience waves of flavor, and texture.

Till next time.


Kofta b’siniyah & طحينة (Tahini) – An evening in Jerusalem without the flight!

This week I am in Darlington again and have a place booked at my favourite new Bistro, Meze which I am really looking forward too.

Inspired by warmer weather and the thought of past holidays in exotic locations this weekends kitchen efforts have been focussed on Turkey, Egypt and Jerusalem.  I have two of Yotam Ottolenghi’s books and looking through ‘Jerusalem” my eyes were drawn to Kofta b’siniyah, a delicious looking dish of mince shaped into sausages,  full of exotic spices and herbs, and served on a sauce of Tahini, and dressed with toasted Pine nuts, Parsley and Sweet Paprika.

To accompany the kofta I spent some time on the internet searching for a dish similar to the one I had recently at Meze. It was a Patates Salatasi or Potato Salad but without the mayonnaise, and I eventually found an original recipe by Ayla Algar a Turkish cook and writer here, from another food blogger!

To prepare the salad, I had some Organic Colleen potatoes supplied by Riverford. These are a waxy variety and seemed ideal for this particular dish. I steamed them for about 35 minutes and then removed the skins whilst still hot. I recall a TV programme many years ago saying most of the flavour is just under the skin, I think they were right as they were amazing. The dressing is made from Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Mustard Powder, Salt, Pepper, Dill & Flat Leaf Parsley. The dressing is added to the potatoes while still hot, that have been cut into smaller pieces, this allows the flavours to penetrate better. I ended up using the spring onion (chopped finely) in the potato salad and the red onion went in the tomato and pepper salad.

Other dishes to complete the meal were ‘Cacik’ a dish of Yoghurt, Cucumber, Garlic, Salt and in my case some Sumac, a salad of Tomato, Red Onion, Orange Pepper, Coriander, dressed with Sherry Vinegar, Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper, and toasted Pitta with some Olive Oil, sprinkled with Dukkah, an Egyptian spice mix.

The meal was delicious and was full and flavour, it took some time to prepare but was well worth the effort. Some genuine food from the kitchens of the Middle East.

The table, if you are wondering, is a slice of ‘rock’ from Erfoud in Morocco, about 3/4 inch thick and polished. Its full of Fossils and in the centre an Ammonite. It was purchased from HERE when we were on a tour a few years ago and shipped over within a week. It weighs 175Kg’s and always reminds us of our holidays in the sun.