Saturday, April 11, 2009

Turkey Kofta & Lemon Garlic Rice

James and I love Middle Eastern food. From kabobs to shawarmas, cous cous to humous, we just can't get enough. Part of living on one salary means eating in a lot. For now, we don't get to frequent our favorite Middle Eastern restaurants as much as we'd like. Frugality has inspired me to play around in the kitchen and develop some recipes of my own that are easy, fast, and affordable. I have never been really good at following a recipe because I like to improvise. I almost always cook without one. This recipe for Kofta (a sort of Middle Eastern meatball often made with lamb) is my version of a classic dish. We eat ours with humous, tomatoes, lettuce and pickles rolled in pita, or with a side of cous cous or rice and a salad. Tonight I made some lemon garlic rice and a salad to go along with it.

1 lb ground turkey (I use thigh but you could substitute breast)
2 medium onions
5 large cloves garlic
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
1 medium lemon
1 cup basmati rice
olive oil
vinegar (any variety will do)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground paprika
1 tsp dried mint
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground cumin
plain Greek yogurt

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Saute both onions, roughly chopped into small pieces (approximately the size of a pea), in olive oil and a pinch of salt until translucent.
  3. In mixing bowl combine 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp vinegar, tsp salt, fresh ground pepper, 2 minced garlic cloves, all the cinnamon, paprika, mint, thyme, and cumin with the ground turkey and sauteed onions, mix thoroughly.
  4. Form the meat mixture into 12-15 equal sized patties and place evenly spaced on baking sheet.
  5. Bake 20-25 minutes (depending on size of patties and individual ovens).
  6. Garnish kofta with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, parsley leaves, and lemon.
  1. In a medium saucepan bring 2 cups of water plus a splash of olive oil, and pinch of salt to a boil.
  2. Once water is boiling, add 1 cup rice plus 3 minced garlic cloves, and the juice and zest of 1/2 lemon (reserving the other 1/2 for garnish) to the pot. Cover with lid and turn heat down to low.
  3. Finely chop 1/2 cup's worth of fresh parsley and set aside.
  4. Once rice is thoroughly cooked, mix chopped parsley in with a fork and add salt and pepper to taste. The kofta pan should have some drippings and these can be added to the rice for flavor.
We ate our meal with a romaine and spinach salad, topped with tomato, cucumber, and feta.

~Serves 4, or 2 with leftovers~


  1. i just made this. mmm mmm mmm. SO delicious. thanks, li!

  2. Very glad to hear that someone is actually using these recipes instead of just looking at the pictures of the food at work and getting hungry! Ha!

  3. I am an avid follower of your blog and find everything in it very useful.. You are doing a great job, keep it up. Being a graduate student on budget myself, these are great and economically-wise recipes.