Grilled Lamb Kofta Kebabs with Pistachios and Spicy Salad Wrap
Authentic kebabs are delicious, full of nuts, spices, herbs and fruit, as anyone who's tasted proper Middle Eastern cooking knows. In this[ recipe I'm using a spice called sumac - it has a lovely flavor - but if you can't find it, try lemon zest instead. Buy really good ground lamb, or else a cut of trimmed shoulder or neck fillet and grind it up at home in a food processor. If you buy slightly older lamb (mutton), it's important to ask your butcher to remove the sinews, and that you cook the meat for a few minutes longer. This dish is best cooked on a barbecue over hot coals, but if that's not possible, put your broiler on to its highest setting or heat up a griddle pan. Either way, get your cooking source preheated.]
- 1 pound trimmed shoulder or neck fillet of lamb, chopped into 1-inch chunks
- 2 heaping tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1 level tablespoon ground chili pepper
- 1 level tablespoon ground cumin
- 4 level tablespoons sumac, if you can find any, or 1 lemon, zest finely grated
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- A good handful shelled pistachio nuts
- A few handfuls mixed salad leaves, such as romaine, endive and arugula, washed, spun dry and shredded
- A small bunch fresh mint, leaves picked
- 1 red onion, peeled and very finely sliced
- 1 lemon
- A bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 large flatbreads or tortilla wraps
- 4 heaping tablespoons plain yogurt
Place the lamb in a food processor with most of the thyme, chili, cumin and sumac (reserving a little of each for sprinkling over later), a little salt and pepper and all the pistachios. Put the lid on and keep pulsing until the mixture looks like ground meat.
Divide the meat into 4 equal pieces and get yourself 4 skewers. With damp hands, push and shape the meat around and along each skewer. Press little indents in the meat with your fingers as you go - this will give it a better texture when cooked.
In a bowl, mix the salad leaves and mint. In another bowl, combine the sliced onion with a good pinch of salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice (the acidity will take the edge off and lightly pickle the raw onion). Scrunch this all together with your hands, then mix in the parsley leaves.
Grill the kebabs until nicely golden on all sides. Dress your salad leaves and mint with a splash of extra-virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and some salt and pepper. Meanwhile, warm the flatbreads for 30 seconds on the griddle pan or under the broiler, then divide between plates and top each with some dressed salad leaves and onion. When your kebabs are cooked, slip them off their skewers onto the flatbreads - you can leave them whole or break them up as I've done here. Sprinkle with the rest of the sumac, cumin, chili and fresh thyme, and a little salt and pepper. Now either toss the salads, grilled meat and juices together on top of the flatbreads and drizzle with some of the yogurt before rolling up and serving; or let your friends toss theirs together at the table, then dress and roll up their own, drizzled with some extra-virgin olive oil.
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