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Most people think of chunks of meat on a skewer when they think of kabobs, but here I'm showing the other style of kabob, also known as kofta. Now that grilling season is upon us, this is definitely something you're going to work into the rotation. Serve with grilled pita bread and a blend of diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onions sprinkled with salt and olive oil, all topped with freshly chopped parsley and dried sumac.

Recipe Summary

30 mins
10 mins
1 hr 30 mins
2 hrs 10 mins
4 servings


Original recipe yields 4 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
For the Spice Blend:
For the Kabobs:
For the Yogurt Sauce:


Instructions Checklist
  • Combine cumin, coriander, Aleppo chile flakes, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix well to combine. Use your spoon to push off about 1/3 of the spice blend to the side.

  • Place ground lamb in a mixing bowl and add 2/3 of the spice blend along with 2 tablespoons cold water. Mix with by hand until thoroughly combined. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

  • While meat is chilling, place bamboo skewers in water to soak for 1 hour.

  • Remove meat from the refrigerator and roll into 8 equal-sized meatballs using slightly damp hands. Skewer each meatball through the center and shape into an oval, about 3 inches long. Use your fingers to taper each end of the kabob down to a point where it meets the skewer. Place on a plate and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes, or until ready to grill.

  • Whisk Greek yogurt, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup water together in a bowl until smooth and combined. Refrigerate until serving.

  • Stir sumac into the remaining 1/3 spice blend. Remove kabobs from the refrigerator and sprinkle spices on top.

  • Preheat an outdoor charcoal grill to medium-high heat.

  • Grill kabobs over charcoal, turning occasionally, until browned and firm, 10 to 12 minutes total. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a kabob should read at least 135 degrees F (57 degrees C). Serve with yogurt sauce.

Chef's Notes:

You can substitute 1 teaspoon paprika plus 1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes for the Aleppo flakes, and 1 teaspoon fine salt for kosher salt. You can use ground beef instead of lamb, or a combination of both, which is very nice.

You can use metal skewers instead of bamboo, if you like.

You can skip chilling the kabobs in the refrigerator once shaped. While any kind of grill will work, a narrow, hibachi-style grill is perfect for skewered meat.

Nutrition Facts

301 calories; protein 23g; carbohydrates 4.6g; fat 20.9g; cholesterol 87.2mg; sodium 820.3mg. Full Nutrition