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Lamb Mini Koftas with Pomegranate Wine Sauce ~ a delicious snack inspired by one of the Middle East's favorite dumplings!
The koftas are ground and seasoned lamb, shaped like balls or ovals, strung together and then grilled. They are common throughout the Middle East, but you generally see them at full size. I thought it would be fun to make a small version, perfect for toothpicks and cocktails.
Only a pound of lamb forms an army of little kofta. You can make and shape and cook them right before you need them if you want.
They cook very quickly in a pan, making them great for entertaining. But I have to be honest, the pomegranate sauce has to receive the same billing. It all started when my daughter and I stopped for lunch on our way home after a round of vacation coming back. It was the same old story, we give her back a lot of things I bought her, and she finds some things she really likes, things she wouldn't have chosen for herself in a million years. It has become a warm and fuzzy festive tradition.
We chose a Middle Eastern restaurant in a mini mall. (In Los Angeles, some of the best ethnic restaurants are in mini-malls.) We ordered Moroccan spiced lamb cigars and they came out on top of the most amazing sauce we have ever tasted. It was simply called red wine sauce. It was thick, blood red, sweet / sour and very heavy (strongly) flavored with cinnamon. I asked about it, but all they told me was that it was made with red wine. She could taste the pomegranate and cinnamon, and she was pretty sure she could recreate it.
I tried it once and it was not entirely correct. The second time I hit it. There was a lot of screeching and ahhing in the kitchen as we tried it. Is incredible. Thick, syrupy, winey, sweet cake with the surprising spicy heat of cinnamon. I'm pretty sure you've never tried anything like this. There's only one problem: To create this amazing sauce, you need to reduce 2 cups of red wine and 2 cups of pomegranate juice to about 1/2 cup of syrup. A kind of waste. But it's worth it. And a little long ago. And anyway, we are celebrating the fact that it is Friday, right?
When you bite into the kofta, the lamb is moist and tinged with golden yellow from all spices. There is a little heat kick at the back of the mouth. The flavors are so bright and vivid in this appetizer, I hope you give it a try. The koftas are adapted from Rachel Allen, but the sauce is all mine.!
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Koftas Mini Lamb
serves 8-10 1 egg1 onion, finely chopped1 shallot, finely chopped2 garlic cloves, minced and minced1 teaspoon of ground cumin 1 teaspoon ground coriander1 teaspoon ground turmeric1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint1 pound lean ground lamb salt and freshly ground black pepper1/2 cup of wheat germ2 tablespoons of olive oil
- In a bowl, beat the egg. Mix everything else except olive oil. Break the lamb into pieces as you add it to help distribute it evenly without over-mixing. Although you want to combine all the ingredients well, working the meat will harden your koftas. If your mixture is very wet, add a little more wheat germ.
- Using a tablespoon or a small tablespoon, take a small portion of meat and roll it up in your hands, first in a round ball to reaffirm it, and then back and forth to lengthen it into an oval shape.
- Put the kofta on a tray and put it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. This will further reaffirm them.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and brown the kofta on both sides. Continue cooking until well cooked and an instant read thermometer reads 160. This will only take a few minutes.
- Prick each kofta with a long cocktail stick and serve with a small amount of pomegranate sauce.
Pomegranate Wine Sauce
makes 1/2 cup thick sauce 2 cups of red wine2 cups of pomegranate juice 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Boil the wine and juice in a saucepan. Continue boilingdiscovered until sauce is reduced and thickened, almost 45 minutes. Whisk the cinnamon towards the end of cooking. You should be left with about 1/2 cup of ambrosia! Don't waste a drop!
Notes: Chop my onion, shallot and garlic in the small food processor because I wanted a very fine texture for my mini koftas. If you do this, drain the mixture well to remove excess water, I used a mesh strainer and a lot of liquid came out. If you don't want the wine sauce, serve these koftas with a simple Greek yogurt sauce. Mix the yogurt with a little lemon and coriander or mint. Add a little tahini if you like.