I brought the leftovers from this dinner to work on Wednesday. When I put them in the microwave, the smell of star anise and meat wafted through the break room.
"What are you making?" Annette asked. "It smells wonderful!"
"Kofta." I said.
Apparently kofta isn't as well known as I thought. If you look kofta up in Wikipedia, you find it exists in 15 different countries, from the arab world to romania to bangladesh. Always some type of ground meat on a stick, always spicy, usually lamb.
This is another recipe from one of my fave cookbooks, "Breakaway Cook" by Eric Gower (see breakaway chicken). Essentially, it's kofta with ingredients you have in your kitchen. Or maybe that I have in my kitchen because most people don't stock pomegrante molasses and star anise.
It's a shame. They should.
I managed to stop at the grocery store on my way home to buy some ground beef. At 3pm I rolled out of bed and started toasting the star anise and coriander. Then I put them in my spice/coffee grinder. My coffee grinder is kind of crap though. It's not crap for coffee, but star anise doesn't like to grind. I ended up with this mixture that was a little gritty. I pined for a burr grinder and decided it was good enough.
Then I put the spices into a pan with a little butter and olive oil, and added chopped shallots. Eric says red onion, but I didn't have red onion and for some odd reason I had a bag of shallots in my basement. Cooked them till soft, then added a dollop of pomegrante molasses.
This stuff kicks ass. It's a mix of sweet and sour, like tamarind but better. Cooked that a bit. Tasted again and it needed a little salt so added some soy sauce which was perfect.
Then I threw this in with some ground beef and broke in an egg, mushed the whole thing up and made some sausage shaped balls which I tried to skewer. Except it was kind of mushy (maybe too much egg? Maybe the addition of the soy sauce?). No matter. It looked fine. I did make the mistake of trying to put a few of these meatball like things on each skewer though. Don't do this. One per skewer. When I tried to turn them under the broiler they all fell apart.
Oh and I also forgot to soak the skewers so smoke was pouring out of the oven.
Cobe turned on the fan, eyeing me suspiciously.
But in a few minutes I had the kofta spread out on a platter, adorned with mint, and accompanied by toasty warm flat bread, greek yogurt and feta. And you know, a salad and veg because you should always have a salad and veg.
"You've done it again!" said Chris, finishing his first forkful.
The kofta turned out perfectly, the meat was soft and juicy from the addition of the caramelized shallots and perfectly spicy. The greek yogurt and feta were just the right foil. And they were even better the next day, heated up with some feta.
It makes me want to play with ground beef. So many possibilities. Black bean sauce. Chili in adobo. Endless.
(from Eric Gower's Breakaway Cook)
1 T. whole coriander
2 T. whole star anise
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 T. unsalted butter
1 T. olive oil
1 med red onion minced (1 cup) or 5-6 shallots
1 T. pomegrante molasses
1 - 1/2 # ground beef (or ground lamb or both)
mint leaves, chiffonaded
Toast coriander and star anise in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant. Grind in coffee grinder with cinnamon. Melt butter and olive oil over medium heat, add onion and spices, sautee til soft. Add pomegrante molasses and continue to sautee a few minutes (here is where I added ~1tsp soy sauce).
Place ground meat in bowl, add onion mix and egg, mix well. Make into balls or sausage shape and put on kebabs (remember to soak the kebab sticks first or else smoke will come billowing out of your oven). One meatball per kebab (or else you will not be able to turn them so well). Cook under preheated broiler, ~5 minutes per side until crispy brown. Top with mint. Serve with feta, greek yogurt, and flat bread or pita.