Meatballs are central to Mediterranean cooking and in the Eastern Mediteranean (in Greece and Turkey) as well as throughout the Middle East they are known as Koftas.
However not all koftas are created equal.
Ground lamb is usually the main ingredient but because lamb is quite rich and often fatty, it is mixed with other meats to give a more balance flavour.
In Egypt, Jordan and Palestine I have had them with varying combination of ground lamb, beef and even chicken. In Greece and Cyprus, a mix of lamb and pork is the preferred option.
The spices used also vary and include different combinations of ground coriander, cumin and all spice. The herbs used to flavour them also varies and can include fresh cilantro, parsley and mint.
And then there are my wife Marcelle’s Koftas. Like me, she grew up and travelled extensively throughout the Middle East and she came up with a particularly exquisite recipe. She uses an equal mix of ground veal and lamb but the finishing touch is what make them so unique. After she has mixed in the onions spices and herbs and grilled the Koftas, she glazes them with pomegranate syrup for the last few minutes to give them a wonderful color and tangy taste.
There is no effective alternative to making these koftas other than getting stuck into mixing the ground meats and other ingredients with your hands. If you feel squeamish about doing that, use rubber gloves. As a last resort you can use a wooden spoon but it will take a long time to get the ingredients well distributed and mixed.
Chop the onion untill it is mushy. I don't use bread or an egg as a binder for the koftas so if the onion is too coarse, the ground meat may break up. ( if you have an onion chopper or small food blender that would help)
In a medium sized bowl, mix the chopped onions, garlic and ground meats until they are evenly distributed.
Add the spices and mix thoroughly.
With damp hands, divide the meat into 10 equal pieces and roll into long patties about 3 inch long and an inch thick ( they will shrink)
In a slightly oiled non stick pan or skillet cook patties on a medium heat for 10 minutes.
During the last couple of minutes, brush patties with pomegranate syrup and continue cooking and turnining occasionally till glazed and rich brown in color.
Serve with a Tahini sauce on the side and rice or bulgur wheat.