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Lamb Koftas with Tahini-Yogurt Dressing

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Lamb Koftas with Tahini-Yogurt Dressing

Lamb Koftas with Tahini-Yogurt Dressing

Jessica Braider
Koftas, a Middle Eastern version of meatballs, that is made from ground lamb, beef, or turkey and combined with other ingredients like onions, garlic, and spices, are an amazing and quick addition to the weekly meal plan. The first time I made these, we actually ended up having to count out how many meatballs everyone got so that there wouldn’t be fights over who got more!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Dish
Cuisine Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
Servings 6 servings


  • 1/2 cup bulgur wheat or use rice for a gluten-free option
  • 1/2 cup low fat plain yogurt (or use any variety)
  • 1/2 lemon juice only, 2 Tbsp.
  • 1 Tbsp. tahini (sesame paste) (use wheat/gluten-free, if needed),
  • 7 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 5/8 tsp. kosher salt, sea salt, or other coarse salt
  • 1 yellow onion roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb. ground lamb, beef, or turkey


  • Place the bulgur in a bowl, cover it with water, and let it soak for 30 minutes (or cook the rice, if you are using it).
  • Meanwhile, make the dressing by combining the yogurt, lemon juice, tahini, 1 tsp. oil, ¼ tsp. cumin, 1/8 tsp. black pepper, and 1/8 tsp. salt.
  • Once the bulgur has softened, place it, the onions, garlic, parsley, 1 ½ tsp. cumin, ½ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. black pepper, and the crushed red pepper flakes in a food processor or high powered blender and process until everything is well mixed.
  • Add the lamb, beef, or turkey, and process until the mixture is smooth.
  • Remove the blade from the food processor and then, using your hands, scoop out portions of the mixture and form it into golf ball-sized meatballs to yield about 20 meatballs (put the mixture onto a piece of wax or parchment paper for easier meatball-making if you used a blender). (Tip: if you use a melon baller, ¼ cup measuring cup, or a food scale to scoop and roll the same amount of meat each time, the meatballs will cook with uniformity.)
  • In a large, heavy skillet heat 2 Tbsp. oil over a medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, but not smoking, add the meatballs and then cover the skillet with a lid or aluminum foil. Turn them after 5 minutes, or once they are browned on the bottom.
  • Cover again and cook for another 5 - 7 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through (lower the heat if the outsides of the meatballs are getting browned before the insides are cooked). Serve the meatballs immediately with the tahini-yogurt dressing, refrigerate them for up to 3 days, or freeze them for up to 3 months. (The sauce cannot be frozen.)


Do Ahead or Delegate: Soak the bulgur for 30 minutes and then store it in an airtight container, juice the lemon, chop the onion, peel the garlic, prepare and refrigerate the dressing, make and refrigerate the meatball mixture, or fully prepare and refrigerate or freeze the meatballs.
Scramble Flavor Booster: Add a bit of lemon zest to the dressing, increase the garlic, or add a minced jalapeño pepper to the meatballs.
Tip: Tahini, a paste made from sesame seeds, is a versatile ingredient to keep in your kitchen. You can use it on its own as a dip for raw vegetables, mix it into soup for a new flavor and extra creaminess, or mix it with some lemon juice and olive oil to make a salad dressing.
Nutritional Information Per Serving (% based upon daily values): Calories 341, Total Fat: 25g, 38%; Saturated Fat: 9g, 43%; Cholesterol: 56mg, 18%; Sodium: 265mg, 11%; Total Carbohydrate: 14g, 4%; Dietary Fiber: 2g, 9%; Sugar: 2g; Protein: 16g
Like this recipe? Check out The Scramble's family-friendly meal plans to see just how simple getting dinner on the table can be!
Keyword All, Company/Entertaining, Dairy-Free, Dinner, Fall, Freezer-Friendly, Gluten-Free, Kid-Friendly, Kosher, Low Sodium, Main Dish, Make-Ahead, No Added Sugar, Snack/Appetizer, Spring, Summer, Winter
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