Easy Lamb Kofta (Spiced Meatballs)

July 19, 2017 | | | | | |

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This delicious lamb kofta recipe is perfectly spiced and packed full of fresh herbs. Ready in 30 minutes!

Close up of lamb kofta with hummus and cucumber salad with fresh herbs.

Truth: I don’t miss culinary school all that often.

Just to state the obvious, I owe my career and possibly my relationship (would I have met my roommate if I hadn’t become a sassy Parisian??) to Le Cordon Bleu, so I’m all kinds of grateful for the experience/it will always hold a special place in my heart. But would I want to do that shiz all over again?


I hate to burst anyone’s bubble here, but it’s hard to stop myself from laughing when people say it’s their dream to go to Le Cordon Bleu Paris one day “just for fun.” And that’s because I know they’re likely imagining it like I did before I arrived—days spent roasting chickens, drinking wine, and chopping onions à la Meryl in that Julie and Julia scene. Unfortunately, the reality is slightly more traumatic less romantic.

(And no, I can’t chop onions like that. Yes, the inability still irks me.)

Culinary school is most definitely NOT a vacation. (Would you wear a hairnet and orthopedic clogs on vacation??) It’s rigorous, sweaty, and at times downright SCARY. There are a lot of live sea creatures involved, and you actually use a blow torch and a meat cleaver on the daily. Every ingredient is provided in its whole form for you to break down, which is 100% necessary from a learning perspective, but not so fun when you perpetually smell like fish guts and have nightmares about deboning a rabbit in under 20 minutes. There’s a lot of yelling. (So much yelling!!) Mostly in French. Once, I had to buy eight pigeons to practice various cooking techniques on before a practical exam. My tiny Parisian kitchen looked like a bird graveyard, dammit!!

Overhead view of a plated serving of lamb kofta with hummus, cucumbers, and lemon wedges.Like I said, I don’t pine for my LCB days all that much. Call me lazy, but I’m all too happy to purchase chickens sans feathers and ask the fish monger for a filet. I’m also very down with barefoot prep to the sweet sweet sounds of 90s hip hop Pandora or My Favorite Murder. However, there are a handful of things that I do miss about culinary school, the most obvious being the daily dose of inspiration. Every day at school, I learned something NEW. A new technique, a new ingredient, a new flavor combination, a new French swear word. It was exciting and for better or worse, I was never, ever bored.

I’m lucky that this site keeps me on my creative toes in the kitchen, but I still fall into an old-fashioned cooking rut from time to time, making the same meals over and over. (Quinoa bakes and avocado toast anyone?) On those days, I turn to my trusty cookbook collection for a little inspo, and lately The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School cookbook has been getting some serious love.

Overhead shot of three plated servings of lamb kofta with a side of hummus and herb salad next to a copy of the Haven's Kitchen Cooking School cookbook.This gem of a book is written by Alison Cayne, owner of Haven’s Kitchen, the most fabulous cooking school and café in NYC. I’m pretty sure when people fantasize about cooking school, Haven’s Kitchen is exactly what they’re picturing—the classes are confidence building and practical but also SUPER FUN. So if you’re in NYC and want to pick up some serious skills, check it out. If not, you’re going to want to snag a copy of this book, which is full of not just droolworthy recipes, but also provides the fundamental building blocks that one needs to feel confident and comfortable in the kitchen. (Virtual chest bump.) It covers everything from basic knife cuts and how to cook every style of eggs to deep-frying, making your own stocks and dressing, and yes, even filleting a fish.

The globally inspired recipes in the book are simple but still impressive, and each one that I’ve tried has been an absolute home run, especially the super easy Lamb Kofta on your screen…

Overhead close-up of the interior of a spiced lamb meatball. What is kofta?

Kofta typically refers to meatball or meatloaf dishes found in the Indian subcontinent, South Caucasian, Middle Eastern, Balkan, and Central Asian cuisines. It’s typically made with ground meat (although one can also make seafood or vegetarian kofta), onions, and a combination of spices.

These lamb meatballs are a pared down version of Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe, and they are straight fire, friends. I don’t make lamb all that often, so I’m grateful to Alison for giving me a nudge—I tend to forget how much I love its unique, slightly rich flavor. It’s delightful in these fabulously versatile kofta, which are loaded with fresh herbs, cumin and coriander, and come together in about half an hour. I served them as recommended with some hummus and a simple salad of parsley and cucumbers drizzled with olive oil and lemon, but they’d be equally epic in a bowl with couscous, quinoa or greens, or wrapped in flatbread with tzatziki and your favorite veggie accoutrements. I also love them with Moroccan Carrot Salad, Quinoa Tabbouleh, and Cauliflower-Carrot Golden Rice. So many ways for you to do you here.

Lamb Kofta: (Makes about 20 1½-inch meatballs/4 servings)

Side view of a plate of spiced lamb meatballs with hummus and a lemon wedge.Ingredients:
1 pound ground lamb
2 scallions (white and green parts), minced
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh mint
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
Fine sea salt
Extra-virgin olive oil

Preparing your Lamb Kofta:

-Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet (or two smaller baking sheets) with parchment.

-In a large mixing bowl, combine the lamb, scallions, parsley, cilantro, mint, garlic, cumin, coriander, and large pinch of salt.

Overhead view of a mixing bowl with ingredients for spiced lamb meatballs. -Use your hands to mix the ingredients and evenly distribute the seasonings throughout the meat.

Overhead shots of all ingredients for spiced lamb meatballs mixed together and ready to be rolled into meatballs.-Form the mixture into 1½–inch balls using your hands. Set aside on the prepared baking sheet(s).

Rolled spiced lamb meatballs on a parchment-lined baking sheet before going into the oven.-Place a large sauté pan over medium heat and pour in enough oil to cover the bottom. When the oil begins to shimmer, gently place the meatballs in a single layer—you’ll need to do this in batches. (Note that for meat to sear, the oil must be hot enough; it should sizzle when you place the lamb balls in the pan. Do not crowd the pan, as this will lower the oil temperature and create too much moisture, thus steaming rather than searing the meatballs.) Let the balls sear for 2 to 3 minutes, then rotate them until they are browned all over. Use a spoon or tongs to remove them from the pan and place back on the baking sheets.

Lamb kofta being browned in oil in a skillet.-When all the balls have seared, bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Lamb kofta on a baking sheet after being removed from the oven. -Serve with hummus and cucumber salad, or your favorite flatbread/salad fixings.

Overhead view of plated lamb kofta with hummus, cucumber salad, and lemon with napkins and forks.

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  1. Susan Stone on July 8, 2020 at 5:44 am

    I finally made this recipe for dinner tonight, and it was excellent. Definitely a keeper. I chose to use equal amounts of coriander and cumin because I am not a real fan of cumin, and I also chose to add some cinnamon, because I love it with lamb and coriander. I do have one complaint: Oil in a pan where you are going to cook lamb meatballs? I followed your directions, and ended up with oil covering ⅔ of the surface of my stove. Never again will I use oil with a fatty meat like lamb. (Note that I do use non-stick cookware.) I told my husband that he didn’t have to clean the stove, because I’m cleaning the kitchen tomorrow, but he probably will clean it because the grills on our new stove are dishwasher safe(!!!!!). Thank you for a really good recipe.

  2. Lisa L. on July 23, 2017 at 10:24 pm

    home made pasta!!! I would love to learn to make it but am too scared because it looks like I’ll make a HUGE mess.

  3. Kristen Ensor on July 23, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    I occasionally see recipes for cooking whole chickens and the one time I tried, it was not good! Dry and not enough flavor. Esh. So I definitely WANT to do it again, just don’t want to waste a whole chicken! So I’m too scared to see any recipes I’ve come across.

  4. Callie Clemons on July 23, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    Soufflés! My grandmother makes them in indivual ramekins for dinner parties, and I have always been too intimidated to try. Something about having to time the rise *just* perfectly to serve makes me nervous…

  5. Meredith Eng on July 23, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    Gnocchi! Chrissy Teigen has a recipe in her book in the chapter about things that scare people that shouldn’t, but I’m still scared.

  6. mimi rippee on July 23, 2017 at 10:55 am

    Wow does that look good. I’ve made lamb kofta before, but only with 1/2 lamb since my husband decided he hates it. Of course he has never suspected a thing. But I truly love the hummus and cucumber salad as sides. Fabulous! There’s nothing I am fearful of trying to cook or bake, because if I want to make something, I make it! If you’ve ever watched Masterchef Junior, those children will really humble you. Well not you, since you’re a culinary school prodigy. I’ve always wanted to make coulibiac like my mother did once, but I’m not artistic. She carved every bit of that pastry to make it look like a fish, scales and all. It was so pretty!

  7. Samantha Woods on July 22, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    I have always wanted to try to make a soufflé. I will definitely be making this lamb dish. It looks delicious!!!

  8. Bonita Flor Maria on July 22, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    Lamb, don’t know why it sounds so scary?

  9. Carol Roberts clark on July 22, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    i have some lamp coming and this is easy to make as i have never cooked with it so ill be doing this recipe with all the lamb wish me luck

  10. Sydney Francis on July 21, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    This book has a WHOLE chapter on eggs?! Omg.

    In the summer, I always think about getting one of those massive paella pans and heading over to Beal’s in Southwest Harbor to get all the lobster/clams/mussels/haddock(??) possible to make to most badass paella.

  11. Harmony B on July 21, 2017 at 7:28 am

    I’ve wanted to make chicken Marsala

  12. Caroline White on July 20, 2017 at 10:47 pm

    Homemade croissants have been on my list for years! In my head it’s a cold, snowy, winter day and I spend the morning watching the sun come up with coffee and a podcast, folding chilled butter into a perfect dough and letting them rise near the oven….

    but let’s be real. Will I get up that early? Won’t hours of coffee make me jittery? Keeping butter the right degree of cold can be stressful. And making things that have to “rise” totally freaks me out. So homemade croissants have sat on the list for years. Maybe winter 2017?

  13. Daphne Lyman on July 20, 2017 at 10:18 pm

    This giveaway looks amazing! I’ve always loved chicken pot pie but never made it bc it looks complicated as well as unhealthy and I’m lazy and the frozen ones can be so delicious.

  14. Rick Jessup on July 20, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    A salt-crusted fish. It has always looked so interesting, but so ominous to actually pull off!

  15. Amanda Whitley on July 20, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    i have always wanted to try and cook meatloaf but for some reason have always been afraid to because my moms is just so good im not sure mine can ever compare.

  16. Kimmy Ripley on July 20, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    I would love to invite some family over for a prime rib dinner but cooking it makes me feel so nervous.

  17. Kim on July 20, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    I would love to make french macaroons!

  18. Jessica on July 20, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    Flaming bananas foster! My dad used to make it when I was a kid but I’m just so scared of flames (along with anything I consider remotely dangerous).

  19. Kara on July 20, 2017 at 11:30 am

    Whole roasted chicken or whole branzino. Basically any protein not already broken down!

  20. Megan Godfrey on July 20, 2017 at 11:02 am

    I’m so afraid to try anything fried! The thought of grease everywhere…eeek!

  21. Emily on July 20, 2017 at 10:41 am

    I’m going to echo someone else’s idea of homemade pasta.. it’s probably not as hard as I think once you have the dough made!

  22. Rose Escalante on July 20, 2017 at 10:41 am

    I’ve always wanted to bake bread but am too scared I’ll knead too much/too little or over/under prove the dough!

  23. Lauren Earman on July 20, 2017 at 10:35 am

    I would love to make spankatopia because it sounds funny and tastes amazing…. I need someone Greek to teach me

  24. Stephanie Lovell Thurlow on July 20, 2017 at 10:17 am

    I have always wanted to try making Beef Wellington. Is it too far advanced for the home cook? I read one recipe that said it took 3 DAYS to prepare properly . . .seriously? Anyway . . .I WILL prepare it . . someday.

  25. Nicole Persico on July 20, 2017 at 9:53 am

    I spent a semester abroad in Florence, and once a week studied with an older woman who would have us to her home for cooking lessons. They were the highlight of the week (especially since most of the time we ate as she cooked). She made the most incredible homemade spaghetti and clams! Every time I plan to make it I give up because I can never get the pasta just right and end up using a box!!

  26. Devan Cody on July 20, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    This looks so good! I’m super intimidated by molten lava cakes – someone told me to just “under cook regular cake”, but I don’t believe it’s that easy…

  27. Jill Harrison on July 20, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    I love to bake and can hold my own in the kitchen, but cannot imagine pulling off a croquembouche – can’t even spell or pronounce it!

  28. Melissa on July 20, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    I’ve always wanted to try making homemade donuts!

  29. Starla on July 20, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    I have never tried lamb before, but that looks delicious! I have never made homemade pasta, like ravioli.. which I totally want to do! starla.batesATyahoo.com

  30. Leigh-Anne Marie on July 20, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    This looks delicious. I love molten lava cakes at restaurants but have never been brave enough to try them at home!

  31. Courtney Bourque on July 20, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    I’ve definitely wanted to try making my own porchetta for a holiday dinner. Lol I hope to do a test run first.

  32. Kay Battista on July 20, 2017 at 7:53 am

    I’d love to make macaroons, but they’re scary!!!

  33. Rebecca Levin on July 20, 2017 at 11:33 am

    Matzo ball soup, from scratch!

  34. Heather on July 20, 2017 at 10:43 am

    Healthy pierogi made from scratch! I am so bad at dough, it freaks me out.

  35. SBB on July 20, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Well-seasoned, not greasy fried chicken and homemade biscuits…doesn’t sound too hard, but when you’re comparing yourself to older southern women’s recipes it is frightening haha

  36. paigecorbin on July 20, 2017 at 10:30 am

    Bananas Flambe! One of my favorite desserts but always terrified! Also, softshell crabs

  37. Maddie on July 20, 2017 at 10:25 am

    A whole fish! Always wanted to. Always scared to.

  38. Meg Dowdy on July 20, 2017 at 10:21 am

    There’s this truffle-infused mushroom soufflé from rise no1 in Dallas that I’d love to recreate, but soufflé is so intimidating. But once mastered, can you imagine the compliments?! I’d love to have that as my party trick.

  39. Steph on July 20, 2017 at 10:07 am

    I have wanted to make my own yogurt but I’m scared I will poison myself!!

  40. Sj Dc on July 20, 2017 at 4:59 am

    pastel de nata (portuguese egg tarts) from scratch…including the pastry..its what i daydream of hoping it won’t be a nightmare!!! someday!

  41. Caitlin Liboiron on July 20, 2017 at 4:38 am

    Beef Wellington is definitely on my list of beautiful dishes I am too frightened to try!!

  42. Pam R on July 20, 2017 at 8:18 am

    I would love to make donuts (that are fried not baked) but I am absolutely terrified of frying things!

  43. Regina Robbins on July 20, 2017 at 3:09 am

    Beef bourguignon would be the ultimate thing to come from my kitchen.

  44. Abby Gilligan on July 20, 2017 at 7:08 am


  45. Lindsay Stephenson on July 20, 2017 at 6:30 am

    Chocolate soufflé

  46. Alfredo Garcia on July 20, 2017 at 2:16 am

    Im not much of a baker but I saw a recipe for Blue Cheese Cheesecake with a Franks Red Hot Carmel sauce in Justin Warner’s cookbook The Laws of Cooking. Im a buffalo chicken purist so definitely want to make it but don’t trust myself yet

  47. Pam St. Cyr on July 19, 2017 at 11:37 pm

    I love to cook, but I’ve always been nervous about learning to make homemade pasta. It’s definitely on my bucket list.

  48. Trish on July 19, 2017 at 11:24 pm

    Crown roast is something I’ve always wanted to make – I probably haven’t because I feel like you need to imbibe multiple vodka cocktails whilst preparing (Mad Men style) and I don’t do well with liquor. Also – SS, DGM!

  49. Angela C on July 19, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    I’ve always wanted to make beef bourguignon from Julia child.

    • Serena Wolf on July 24, 2017 at 9:43 am

      CONGRATULATIONS, Angela!!! You are the winner of a fabulous new cookbook and fancy tool set! Please shoot an email to [email protected] with your full name and mailing address so I can get your prizes to you ASAP! xox

  50. Heather Foster on July 19, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    I would love to know how to make sauces. any kind of sauce/gravy. I have such amazing ones at resturants and have no idea how to deglaze and make something great with pan drippings etc!

  51. Emily Coyne on July 19, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    I’ve always wanted to “dude diet” Chicken or beef shawarma!! My boyfriend refuses to believe that homemade can be as good as takeout!

  52. brittany pollock on July 19, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    I have a favorite breakfast at this adorable place that I love so much, I’m scared to make it and disappoint myself! It’s a Mediterranean eggs Benedict and it is amazing!

  53. Kathy Anderson on July 19, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    Puff pastry! I’m pretty sure I could do it, but I’m worried it’d be so much work that I wouldn’t enjoy scarfing it down as I should. 🙂

  54. Vickie Harvey on July 19, 2017 at 7:13 pm

    I’ve wanted to make Timpano ever since I saw the film Big Night. It looks like such a project. Some day I’ll get up the nerve!

  55. latanya t on July 19, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    beef wellington

    dlatany at gmail dot com

  56. Jacqueline Gannon on July 19, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Cookbook looks awesome! My own chicken stock to use in a soup!

  57. horseofcourse66 on July 19, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    Cookbook sounds amazing. I have always been scared to make pao do queijo (brazilian cheese bread which is delicious and addictive). Husband is Brazilian so the stakes are high if I screw it up.

  58. Harvitron on July 19, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    I would love to make a Beef Wellington for my husband, but it looks So. Dang. Difficult.

  59. Madeline Modin on July 19, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    I see I’m not alone in my intimidation of risotto. All that baby-sitting and adding liquid a couple of times when it looks like it needs it. Arrrrgggghhhh! But, I may give it a valiant try some day.

  60. Kayla Grimes on July 19, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Salt. Crusted. Branzino. EEK.
    That cookbook sounds awesome!

  61. Elizabeth Conley on July 19, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    I really want to try and cook risotto some day soon. I’ve actually watched videos and read articles on the perfect method, but the cooking shows where they mess it up make me nervous…

  62. Amy on July 19, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    This isn’t a dish I am scared to cook (I have tried and failed many times…) but I cannot, for the life of me, cook the perfect soft boiled egg. I have made a few decent ones, but there is no consistency. I think I have a technique down, and then the next time, BAM. Runny whites. Not sure why I am incapable of mastering this.

  63. Mary Fran on July 19, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    I’ve always wanted to cook a whole fish but I don’t even know where to start and don’t want my place to stink haha.

  64. Tory on July 19, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    One thing that I’ve been too scared to cook is scallops. Maybe it’s because I watch way too much Top Chef for my own good and am terrified I won’t have the perfect sear or even worse no sear at all….and being from Mass I’ve literally cooked every seafood from mussels, clams, lobster, shrimp but alas, Scallops still haunt my dreams….

  65. Susan Stone on July 19, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    I have tried so many things over the years – including a lot of Chinese dishes and even apple strudel (especially the dough) from scratch. The one thing that intimidates me (though I’m not sure I want to try it) is deep frying. I also am in serious need of getting my dough-stretching techniques back (Can’t understand why I’ve lost them, it’s only been 51 years…).

  66. Laura Lattanzio on July 19, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    This is BEYOND incredibly stupid – especially since I cook almost every day and feel somewhat comfortable in the kitchen – BUT I have never roasted a chicken. In fact I have even touched a whole chicken. Ever.

  67. Karen Higgins on July 19, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    I’ve always wanted to roast the perfect chicken and make gravy with it (made with my own homemade stock, natch). What is it about gravy/stock that intimidates me so??!!??

  68. Sydney85 on July 19, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    I have always wanted to make a paella but hesitate at the ingredients. Love lamb so will definitely try this recipe.

  69. Emily Fender on July 19, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    I bought Julia Child’s The Art of French Cooking years ago…obviously I watched Julie and Julia and decided I was some sort of chef. Years later and I have still never made anything from that cookbook.

  70. Becca on July 19, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    This looks REALLY good…I’ve never made a lamb dish but will start with this one! I’ve always wanted to make a feijoada but never have because it sounds overwhelming. It’s so delicious though! mmmmm meat meat meat.

  71. Sarah S. on July 19, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    This is really silly, but I’d like to grill a perfect steak one day. My dad was always in charge of the grill when I was growing up so I never got to use it. Now the grill (plus my inexperience cooking meat in general) really intimidates me. Wouldn’t it be great to make a delicious steak? Maybe with an herb butter on top… With some sort of potatoe on the side 🙂

  72. Brittany Bromagem on July 19, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    I’ve always wanted to try converting my mom’s chicken pot pie recipe to a gluten free version!

    • Jill Harrison on July 20, 2017 at 1:30 pm

      I love to bake desserts and do okay in the kitchen, but I wish I could make a croquembouche… can’t even pronounce or spell it 😉

  73. Stephanie Elko on July 19, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    I’ve always wanted to cook my own Russian pirog (it’s like a giant hot pocket but so much better)! Something about making the dough-like bread with yeast and having the meat cook inside of it has left me unsure and not very brave to actually try it.


  74. Jan Sanderson on July 19, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    I’ve always wanted to make chicken curry. Don’t know what’s scaring me…. but something is, I’ve wanted to make it for the longest time.

    • Stephanie Elko on July 19, 2017 at 2:11 pm

      Try the recipe for it in The Dude Diet, it’s so good and very easy!

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