There is often confusion here!

Middle Eastern Meatballs go by two names and the word Kebab causes further confusion as we know that as chunks of meat, chicken, fish or even vegetables strung onto a skewer for the barbeque or braai!

In Middle Eastern terms both are meatballs cylindrical in shape, Kebabs if on a stick and Koftas without the stick. And then, the rules for the shape are not cast in stone as round meatballs are also quite acceptable. If they are placed on a stick they must have a cylindrical shape with tapered ends.

Traditional seasoning

I simply love the traditional seasoning of cumin, coriander, a hint of chilli, garlic and onion. Often recipes call for the addition of pine nuts, but they simply too expensive so I either add almonds or golden sultanas. If you pre-soak the sultanas in Rooibos tea they are plump and delicious in this recipe. When I make hamburger patties I always tend to season them in this direction, unless I am preparing it for a traditional beef burger ‘junkie’ !

The meat

Lamb or goat is also traditionally used, but again, to economise I use beef as it is much cheaper in South Africa. A mixture of beef and ostrich mince also works very well. As I prefer the koftas to be slightly pink to retain the juiciness I avoid pork or chicken for this recipe.

Barbequing enhances the meat with the smoky flavour it, but you may also grill them in the oven.

The ideal accompaniment…..

is a broad bean hummus or a tahini dressing. If you have any pomegranate reduction, a drizzle of that and of course if you have some, a sprinkling of a few fresh pomegranate pearls simply elevate the dish to another level.

They are often tucked into a pita with salad and humus, but when watching the carbs, try sweet potato or a chick pea based salad for better GI carbs.

For the tahini sauce I use my easy salad dressing with consists of

125 ml tahini paste (sesame paste)

25ml fresh lemon juice

20ml water

1 small garlic clove crushed

40 ml olive oil

Mix above together. It is delicious as a dressing with over sweet potatoes, roast cauliflower or broccoli, roast lamb or a chicken salad.

I love serving koftas as week day supper or they make an excellent cocktail snack, where I make daintier ones, or as a starter where fish is the main course. If you want to impress with a budget braai make koftas / kebabas and serve with a selection of Middle Eastern Dips such as Hummus and Tzatziki, make a coriander, feta and tomato salad and make or buy some flatbreads or pita’s that you warm over the coals!

Make double mixture and pop the shaped mini-meatballs in the freezer to haul out as a quick cocktail snack.