I had started out one night thinking I’d make lamb and spinach meatballs, but I found I was low on eggs, and wanted to use what I had for something else. So I switched to lamb kofta meatballs mid-stream! Sometimes, I pivot in the middle!
The meatballs are flavored with toasted nuts, warm spicy cumin and cinnamon, as well as sweet, minty green cardamom. All that makes them a feast both for the mouth and the eyes. Look how colorful they are!
Plus, they require no eggs and no breadcrumbs. I wasn’t entirely sure if they would stay together without it, but they did. So it’s a great way to have meatballs if you can’t have eggs. And, since there’s no bread crumbs, they’re also gluten-free.
I’ve adapted this from once upon a chef‘s recipe for Middle Eastern lamb kofta meatballs , and reduced the quantities. I did make a few other changes. One, I swapped cilantro for spinach (don’t like cilantro!). Two, my quarter of a bell pepper was questionable, so I used chopped carrot instead. And lastly, I didn’t have the mixed nuts, only ground almonds, so I used that. More pivoting!
That also saved me the step of grinding up the nuts. You can use almonds, or go with a mixture of walnuts, almonds, and pine nuts as she did in the original recipe.
That’s the thing about cooking. Sometimes you have to be able to think on your feet, and figure out what to do when something doesn’t go quite the way that you initially planned.
Lamb Kofta Meatballs
Flavored with toasted nuts, warm spicy cumin and cinnamon, as well as sweet, minty green cardamom: a feast both for your mouth and your eyes!
Serve with tzatziki or hummus. You can also make these on a grill, if you have one.
- 2 T ground almonds (or combination of almonds, walnuts, and pine nuts)
- 1/2 small yellow onion, chopped roughly
- 1 clove garlic, chopped roughly
- 1 small carrot, chopped (or about 1/4 of a large green bell pepper), chopped roughly
- 1/2 small jalapeño pepper, chopped (take out the seeds and ribs to make it less spicy, leave them in for more heat)
- 1/4 cup spinach leaves
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1/3 teaspoon ground cumin
- Generous pinch ground cinnamon
- Generous pinch ground cardamom
- Generous pinch ground cloves
- 3/4 tsp salt
- pinch of ground black pepper (or a grinding of peppercorns)
- 1 T olive oil
- If you have ground almonds, skip this step. If not, place the nuts in a food chopper and grind them up.
- Add the ground nuts to a small, dry pan and cook on medium heat. Keep stirring until the nuts take on color and become fragrant. This should take about five minutes.
- Remove the nuts from the pan and pour them into a medium size bowl. Let them cool while you prepare the rest of the kofte mixture.
- Now put the onion, garlic, carrot (or bell pepper) and spinach into the chopper you used to grind the nuts. Pulse until the veggies are minced into small pieces.
- Place a fine mesh sieve in your sink and add the veggie mixture to it. Push down on the veggies, using a spoon or a spatula, to get out as much moisture as possible.
- Add the strained mixture to the bowl with the nuts, and then add the lamb, spices, salt, pepper.
- Stick your hands in the bowl, and use them to mix everything together until it's all thoroughly blended.
- Still using your hands, take about 2 T worth of mixture from the bowl and form them into patties/balls about 2 inches around. Lay the kofta out on a cutting board, until you are ready to cook them. Note: if you like, you can stop at this point and refrigerate the kofta until you are ready to cook them. They will keep in the fridge for a day or two.
- Heat the olive in a medium size skillet on medium-high heat. Add the kofta to the skillet, in batches, if necessary, and cook, turning carefully, until they brown and cook through. This should take about 4 minutes per side.
More Lamb Recipes
Spinach Lamb Meatballs
Rich with lamb, earthy spinach, tangy vinegar, and spicy/warm cumin, these meatballs are ready in minutes. But, they taste like you spent hours making them.
Lamb Keema with Potatoes and Broccoli
Flavored with ginger, cumin, cinnamon and turmeric, this dish is a sort of Pakistani shepherd’s pie. It’s savory, not hot or strong. Make it with lamb or beef if you prefer. And only needs one pot!
Turkish Lamb Burgers
Rich lamb, sharp garlic, and salty feta balanced by cool cucumber and mint, topped with yogurt sauce. Flavorful, filling, and just a wee bit messy. But soooo good. Even better if you can refrigerate the mixture for a few hours.