Grilled, spiced, delicious and healthy, a Mid-East Delight
A healthy protein heavy take on a Middle Eastern Classic
Kofta, or Kafta in Lebanon, is a grilled dish consisting of spiced ground meat, typically lamb or beef. I love Kofta, and I really love my grilled turkey kofta kebabs. You get all the same flavor as traditional kebabs, all of the protein, and the same delightful texture, for far fewer calories
Middle eastern cuisine is a carnivore’s dream
When I think about Middle Eastern cuisine, the first thing that pops into my mind is the incredible array of roast and grilled meats. Seriously, if you’ve never been to a middle eastern restaurant, you should go now. If you’re ever in Michigan, you should check out my all time favorite restaurant, Hamido. They have excellent Kofta and falafel, and they’re just a couple doors down from an excellent roastery with fresh spices and coffee.
Grilled Turkey Kofta Kebabs are super easy to prepare
Another thing to love about this meal is how easily it’s prepared. At its core, we just mix some spices into ground turkey, form it onto kebab sticks, and grill! You’ll have a wonderful middle eastern meal with next to no effort.
Lots of side choices
I served this meal with my Turmeric Yellow Rice, sour cream, grilled summer squash, and my homemade Naan, which made for a hearty but calorie conscious meal. Some other great sides include:
- Middle Eastern pickles (I’ll share a recipe later this season)
- Chickpea salad
- Hummus or Baba Ghanoush
- A small garden salad or tabbouleh.
Charcoal, propane, or pan fry?
This meal is best when grilled, but it certainly can be pan fried. If you need to pan fry, put a little oil in the pan first, as turkey tends to be lean and won’t cook as well in its own juices.
I’ve been on a real charcoal kick lately. Small charcoal grills are super inexpensive (mine was $20 at Walmart.) Starting them doesn’t take much longer than a propane grill. Most importantly, you get an entirely different flavor when cooked over charcoal, which I think is perfect for this meal.
All that aside, propane grills will work perfectly too, so don’t shy away from grilling!
How to quickly make Kofta seasoning
I buy my Kofta seasoning directly from the roastery I mentioned above. You can also find it in stores, check your local ethinc aisle.
If you want or need to make your own, you can quickly make up a batch and store it.
To make Kofta seasoning, mix in equal parts:
- Ground coriander
- Ground pepper
- Ground allspice
- Ground cardamom
If you have access to some of these but not in a ground state, you can use a coffee grinder, magic bullet, mortar and pestle, or just a heavy bowl and glass to grind these spices.
Recipe for Smoked Pot Roast
Grilled Turkey Kofta Kebabs
- 1 Grill
- 4 Kebab Skewers
- 28 oz raw ground turkey, 93% lean
- 2 tbsp Kofta seasoning See above if you need to make some
- Combine ground turkey and Kofta seasoning in a bowl and mix well. Note: I like to think of it like making biscuit dough - I fold the turkey over itself until the seasoning is well distributed.
- Take a pre-soaked wood or clean metal skewer and wrap ¼ of the turkey around the skewer. I recommend using a wax paper covered baking sheet to set the skewer on and then press the meat into a long log, like the Kofta you would get at a restaurant. Repeat this process 3 more times until you have 4 skewers.
- Cover the skewers with more wax paper, and refrigerate at least 1 hour, preferably 2-3 hours before cooking. The time in the refrigerator helps the turkey keep its shape on the grill. If you don’t let it rest for long enough, the turkey will be too soft to manipulate properly on the grill.
- Preheat your grill. I used charcoal for this recipe, but I’ve used propane to good effect in the past. Once the grill is hot, put on your skewers. Cook on the first side until you notice it charring on the bottom, or until the top of the Kofta is darkening. Don’t let it cook through completely, but you want the Kofta to be firm enough that it won’t fall apart when you turn it. This will take at least 5 minutes, but should not need more than 10 if the grill is sufficiently hot.
- Use a pair of long tongs to turn the Kofta. Have a metal spatula on hand in case you need to unstick parts of the Kofta. Cook for at most another 5 minutes, just until this side is also charred.
- Use a meat thermometer to verify the Kofta is over 165F internally. For the Kofta to be nicely charred, it will likely far exceed 165F. This test is only to ensure food safety. Once it’s at temp, you can remove and serve.