Kofta Pocket with Tzatziki Sauce

March 22, 2010
7 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

In this speedy version of kofta I substitute a pine nut meal for longer cooking bulger. Grilling the kofta infuses the lamb with a slightly charred flavor that is tempered with a cool and tangy tzatziki sauce. Don't worry if you don't have a grill; I have included alternative cooking methods. —Food Blogga

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Food Blogga is a cookbook author and freelance food writer who lives in San Diego.
WHAT: Nutty, vibrant lamb meatballs and creamy-cool tzatziki -- eaten side by side or tucked into a pocket.
HOW: Mix ground lamb with onion, garlic, spices, and pine nuts, shape into balls, and grill. Load into pitas. Dollop with tzatziki.
WHY WE LOVE IT: These kofta -- which are bound with ground, toasted pine nuts -- have spice, heat, and texture. The tzatziki tames all that fiestiness. And when eaten smooshed into a pocket, with lettuce, carrots, and onions, you've got yourself an ideal lunch. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Tzatziki Sauce
  • 1 cup plain Greek style yogurt, or regular yogurt, strained until thick
  • ½ cup diced peeled and seeded cucumber
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh mint
  • Kofta
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup minced yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts, ground into a meal in a food processor
  • 4 pitas, sliced in half and warmed (for a total of 8)
  • optional garnishes include thinly sliced red onions, shredded carrots, and baby lettuce leaves
  1. Tzatziki Sauce
  2. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  1. Kofta
  2. In a medium bowl combine all ingredients from lamb through pine nuts. Using your hands, mix well until smooth. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes or up to overnight.
  3. When ready to cook, form lamb mixture into 1 ½ - 2-inch balls. Makes about 14-16 balls.
  4. Directions for grilling: Preheat grill to medium heat. If using wooden skewers, soak in water for 30 minutes prior to using. Place 4 balls on each skewer. Grill for 8-10 minutes, rotating skewers, or until the lamb is evenly browned and cooked through.
  5. Slide meat off skewers. Place 2 balls inside each half pocket; top with a dollop of cucumber yogurt sauce and any garnishes you desire. Eat immediately.
  6. If you don't have a grill, then you can broil, bake, or pan fry the kofta. Broil for 8-10 minutes, rotating skewers, or until the lamb is evenly browned and cooked through. Bake on 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, flipping once, or until the lamb is evenly browned and cooked through. To pan fry, place 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook kofta 7-10 minutes, flipping, until the lamb is evenly browned and cooked through.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • hotsauce
  • Molly
  • Dima Haddad
    Dima Haddad
  • adele93
  • TheWimpyVegetarian

22 Reviews

Corinne May 30, 2023
Is there a secret to opening a pita? I always manage to tear it.
Corinne August 13, 2020
Delicious as is 😋
Anne August 17, 2019
We enjoyed this recipe! I used ground chicken and used ground almonds. Also used dill instead of mint. Delicious!
hotsauce April 7, 2016
We adored the recipe, as written. Fantastic, amazing. We had some leftover ground pine nuts (still warm from oven- this is key) and put them on ice cream. Oh my god. That is all.
Molly March 30, 2016
These were so flavorful, and so easy to make! I used a combo of pine nuts and walnuts because I didn't have enough pine nuts, and it worked like a charm.
Dima H. July 2, 2013
You made me look at kefta from a different perspective, I will make your recipe very soon, thank you for sharing it :)
adele93 February 21, 2013
would ground slivered almonds work in place of pine nuts as i feel when bead crumbs are used that is all i can taste?
Dima H. July 2, 2013
Actually you don't need to use pine nuts or breadcrumbs, you can make kefta or kofta with minced onions, lamb, parsley, and bharat spice mix (same spices mentioned in the recipe)I made a post about it recently ( however I must say that adding pine nuts to kefta sounds delicious and decadent! I will be making this recipe soon.
Loves P. March 21, 2011
I made this last night for a family dinner with my "home for Spring break" son. Everyone loved it, especially my son. The flavor of the meat was really delicious and the pine nuts were a great touch. Thank you for the recipe; looking forward to making it again.
TheWimpyVegetarian October 12, 2010
I made this tonight and we all loved it at my house. Really great combination of flavors and I loved the idea of grinding up the pine nuts. Thanks for a great recipe!
MadebyMariko April 5, 2010
I found this to be a delightful recipe. You can see the fruits of my labour, and your recipe here:
Jennifer A. April 3, 2010
We had this for dinner tonight, and it was really so good. The balance of spices in the Kofta and the yogurt sauce worked perfectly together.
gluttonforlife March 23, 2010
Love the pine nut meal since we don't eat wheat! That's clever gluten-free thinking (even if it was by accident).
Food B. March 25, 2010
I'd so love to take credit for it, but it was by accident. ;) I'm so happy is GF for you now.
Skylor P. March 23, 2010
How exciting. I have been looking for a recipe to use my new food processor with, and I would love the christen it with pine nuts! Can't wait to try this.
Food B. March 25, 2010
Christen pine nuts? That's sound like a good idea to me. Have fun!
TheWimpyVegetarian March 23, 2010
LOVE IT!!! Looks and sounds wonderful!
Food B. March 25, 2010
Thanks so much!
mrslarkin March 22, 2010
Yes! These sound yummy!
Food B. March 25, 2010
Glad you like them!
shayma March 22, 2010
mmm. so many beautiful spices.
Food B. March 25, 2010
They really add depth of flavor to the lamb. Thanks!