Kofta is a classic dish found throughout the Middle East, Mediterranean, Balkans and Southeast Asia. The word kofta comes from the Persian word koofteh, which means pounded meat. Kofta is typically made with ground meat such as lamb, beef or even chicken (although there are vegetarian and fish versions too), which is mixed with herbs and spices and shaped into balls or cylinders. I make my kofta using a combination of lamb and beef with warm spices such as cinnamon and allspice, then skewer and grill them for a nice smoky flavor.
For the kofta: Place 16 to 20 wooden skewers in a container of water and press down to make sure they’re fully submerged, then soak for at least 1 hour.
Grate the onion into a large bowl. Tear the bread into pieces and add it to the grated onion. Add the milk and mix to make sure that the bread is fully soaked. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
Discard any excess liquid in the bowl (if there is any). Add the beef and lamb and mix into the bread mixture with your hands. Add the parsley, allspice, cumin, paprika, salt, sumac, cinnamon, coriander, black pepper and garlic and mix to combine until the ingredients are well incorporated. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.
For the yogurt sauce: Mix the yogurt with the lemon juice, salt, garlic and 1 tablespoon water in a bowl until smooth and combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Prepare a grill for medium-high heat.
Divide the meat mixture into 16 to 20 pieces and roll each piece into a cylinder. Press a skewer into each cylinder and shape the mixture around the skewer, making it about 1 inch thick. Place the skewers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Lightly oil the grill grates. Grill the kofta until nicely grill-marked and just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Serve with the yogurt sauce, warm pita, tomatoes, parsley and onions.
You can make the mixture a day in advance and shape them on skewers right before grilling.
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