Lamb Kofta: The Base for a Great Shawarma

Shawarma. Yiro. Gyro. Kebab. One dish with a dozen names, and pronunciations. But no matter what you call it, there’s nothing like some well spiced kofta served up in a fresh flatbread and dressed just the way you like it to satisfy a late night hunger. It’s an end of night ritual across Australia to stagger towards the kebab truck and tuck straight into the luscious sweetness before getting a cab home.

There are the usual declarations of the greatness of this particular kebab/shawarma accompanied by a vigorous discussion as to whether it is actually a shawarma or kebab.

They are street food at their finest. Street food can be a minefield for migraineurs.

For me the heart of the dish is the savoury meat or kofta. The kofta is believed to be the original meatball. Originating in Persia, recipes can be found in the first Arabic cookbooks, spreading across the Middle East, southern Asia and eventually Greece and Italy. The word kofta is derived from Persian kūfta, کوفتن (kuftan), meaning “to beat” or “to grind”. Koftas can be made from any ground meat; beef, lamb, pork or chicken – which is then heavily spiced and worked to a smooth paste with some egg.

Koftas are simple to bring together, so there’s no reason for migraineurs to miss out on a shawarma. They are a great way to liven up some mince, taking about the same cooking time as a hamburger. Then you can have the discussion as to whether these are the best shawarmas ever.

Enjoy my friends.

Lamb Kofta

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A savoury kofta is the base for the perfect shawarma.


Required skills: egg breaking with no shells in the bowl; cook in butter without burning; slicing vegetables without losing a finger; grilling without burning to a crisp.

I like to make this in a large batch so I can freeze it up for meals at a later time. Just be sure and freeze before adding the eggs. The ratio is one egg for every 250 grams of lamb. I like to serve it with a good flatbread, very sweet tomatoes, fresh lettuce, crumbled feta, some Greek yogurt and let everyone make their own wrap.

You'll Need

  • 250 gm (½ lb) low fat lamb mince
  • ¼ finely chopped brown onion
  • 1 clove of finely minced garlic
  • handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • handful of fresh marjoram, chopped (optional)
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground sumac
  • ½ tsp sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • good grind of black pepper
  • 1 egg slightly beaten


  1. Finely chop the garlic, onion, parsley and marjoram together.
  2. In a large bowl using your hands combine the lamb, chopped mixture and spices. You need to work it a bit and let the warmth of your hands melt the fat through the lamb. The meat should take on the texture of a rough bread dough and hold together quite well. It takes about 5 minutes of working the meat and spices.
  3. Here’s where you can partition off bits for freezing.
  4. Using your hands gently work the egg into the meat. You just want to get the egg incorporated through here.
  5. Form into oval shapes around flat skewers or oval shaped “burgers” the size of half your palm. I do the later as it’s easy to cook on the grill. The flat skewer method is the traditional way to cook them over an open fire.
  6. Cook on a preheated barbecue over medium heat for 5 minutes each side. You want them to brown on the outside so be sure that the heat is low enough. Only flip them once. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

So my friends, what is your favourite way to liven up some mince?

Informed by science, cooked by you.

One thought on “Lamb Kofta: The Base for a Great Shawarma

  1. Pingback: January 2018 Recipe ReDux: Every Migraineur Needs a Meat Grinder | Headache Free Foodie

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