Thursday, April 10, 2008

Kofte Kebabs with Pomegranate Reduction and Lentil Salad

Kofte is a typical street food found in the middle east and south asia, made often of lamb or a combination of lamb and other ground meat, strongly spiced and formed around skewers for grilling and easy on-the-go eating. It's a super-easy blend to put together, and quite forgiving, as well. If you don't have an ingredient, well, that's perfectly okay. You can substitute, or adjust according to your taste preferences.

Sometimes it's in the shape of a meatball; other times it's shaped in cylinders--but however you prefer your kofte, it's a delicious meal that will transport your tastebuds to faraway lands.

I chose this dish as my entry to Blog Party #33: Diner (and Road and Street) Food hosted by Dispensing Happiness. The object: transform a favorite dinner (or street) food to an appetizer portion, and serve it with a favorite cocktail/mocktail. See the roundup for lots of yummy diner/road/street-inspired bits and bites!

The pomegranate sauce was a prominent taste on these cute little meatball lollipops, giving a lovely sweet balance to the spicy flavors going on in this dish. I loved the presentation, as well, and it certainly appealed to my sense of nutrition.

I paired these with a glass of Goats do Roam, which is a spicy, fruit-packed dry red wine from South Africa. It's a bit of a leap from this middle-eastern/south asian dish, but I enjoyed the pairing immensely.

Kofte Kebabs with Pomegranate Reduction and Lentil Salad
serves 8 lunch-size portions

Kofte Kebabs

1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound ground lamb
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons minced onion
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon grains of paradise (or black pepper)
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; gently but thoroughly mix with hands to distribute seasonings. Cover and refrigerate one hour to allow flavors to marry.

For appetizer-size lollipops:

Roll into mini-meatballs.

For lunch-size kabobs:
Divide mixture into eighths; form around 10-inch wooden or metal skewers (if using wood skewers, soak them in water overnight to avoid charring) in a cylindrical shape.

(Kabobs may be pre-formed and frozen for a quick make-ahead meal. Just omit skewer and freeze in an airtight container.)

Cook using a charcoal/gas grill, stovetop grill, or contact grill. (I used my tiny George Foreman grill with excellent results.) For mini-meatballs, only sear for grill lines on each side--you don't want to cook these much past medium doneness, otherwise they will dry out. For larger kabobs, cook carefully and check with a thermometer to check for doneness. (Timing will depend on size of kabobs and desired doneness.)

Drizzle with pomegranate reduction (recipe follows) and serve atop lentil salad (recipe follows).

Pomegranate Reduction

In a small saucepan, simmer 1 cup pomegranate juice until reduced to about 1/8 cup.

Lentil Salad

1/2 pound lentils, cooked in 4 cups water for 25 minutes; drained
1 14-ounce can cannelini beans, rinsed and drained (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 large tomato, diced
2 green onions, trimmed and chopped (white and green parts)
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
pinch salt

In a large, non-reactive bowl, combine lentils, cannelini beans, shallot, tomato, onions and garlic. In a small container, whisk together red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, coriander and salt. Pour over lentil mixture and gently toss to combine. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight to marinate.

Serve cold or at room temperature.

To Assemble

For Appetizers:
In spoons or small dishes, spoon about 1 tablespoon lentil salad; insert a toothpick into each mini-meatball and roll in pomegranate reduction before placing atop the salad.

For Lunch:
Spoon lentil salad onto a platter; season with salt and freshly ground pepper, if desired. Top with cooked kebabs and drizzle with pomegranate reduction.

(Note: Add some tatziki sauce and flatbread for scooping or making a sandwich--yum!)


Mary said...

That looks/ sounds delicious! And so creative! I was just sitting here trying to think of what to make for the blog party and have been totally drawing a blank.

Mrs. W said...

Thanks, Mary. I had to find something that fit in my non-carby lifestyle. I really wanted to do burger sliders!

Here is some inspiration for you.

Anonymous said...

I'm intrigued by your pomegranate reduction that sounds wonderful with these kefte kebabs, not fogetting the lentil salad!

Mrs. W said...

Ronell, it added just the right balance--just a touch of sweetness. I've been experimenting with pomegranate molasses lately, but it is made with quite a bit of sugar. So I decided to just reduce the juice down--it's quite sweet enough--and use that. I couldn't really taste the differece.

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