Lamb & quinoa kofte with anchovy & olive dressing & cucumber sumac yoghurt

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Appears in

Fusion: A Culinary Journey


By Peter Gordon

Published 2010

  • About

Kofte are a great snack in Turkey and mostly made from meat, although there are vegetarian versions as well. One of my favourite kofte is made from wheat, shaped like small rugby balls and stuffed with meat. Lots of cloves and cinnamon in them gives a lovely sweet but savoury taste. Quinoa, originating in the Andes of South America like so many of our everyday foods, was one of the great Inca foods, held sacred by them. It’s a grain that is one of the world’s super-foods - full of protein, essential amino acids, fibre and a host of other goodies. Kirmizi biber are delicious oily chilli flakes from Turkey - also referred to as Aleppo pepper flakes - you can substitute these with regular chilli flakes but use a little less. Sumac is a berry from a flowering bush that seems to have been used all over the world for various culinary uses. The most common is in the Middle East, where the berries are ground to produce an astringent powder used for sprinkling over salads, grilled breads and fish, tossing it with tomatoes and olive oil and many more uses. For a snack, one kofte is a lovely portion, although you could sit it in a flat bread filled with lots of salad, tomatoes, plenty of sumac and cucumber and serve it as a light meal.


  • 100 g quinoa grains
  • 500 g lamb mince (lean to medium-lean is best)
  • 30 ml (2 Tbsp) soy sauce
  • a handful of parsley, shredded
  • a handful of coriander, shredded
  • a handful of dill, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp toasted cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp kirmizi biber
  • 6 anchovy fillets in oil (or use 2 salted anchovies, rinsed with bones removed)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 handfuls mint leaves
  • 45 ml (3 Tbsp) olive oil, plus some extra for cooking
  • 50 g (just over 2 heaped Tbsp) green olive paste
  • 60 ml white or cider vinegar
  • ½ cucumber
  • 150 g thick yoghurt
  • 15 g (1 heaped Tbsp) sumac


Bring a pot of water to the boil. Rinse the quinoa under hot running water for 20 seconds (this removes the bitter coating) then add to the water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and cook for 8-12 minutes, the grains will have opened somewhat and be cooked - they will always have a nutty crunch to them. Drain and leave to cool. Place in a bowl with the next nine ingredients and mix really well, almost kneading it, for 1 minute. Cover and leave to rest in the fridge for at least an hour. Divide the mixture into eight balls then roll into a sausage shape. Leave as they are, or thread them onto a skewer.

While the mixture is resting make the dressing and cucumber yoghurt. Ideally pound the anchovies, garlic and mint into a paste with a pestle and mortar, although a small food processor will work. Mix in the olive oil, the olive paste and vinegar. Taste for seasoning and leave to one side.

Cut cucumber lengthways into quarters, remove seeds then cut into dice. Mix with the yoghurt and sumac. Leave to come to room temperature.

Rub a little oil over the kofte and grill over a moderate-high heat, turning them as they colour. They’ll only take 3 minutes in total to cook.

To Serve

Simply pile the kofte on a platter and serve the dressing and the cucumber yoghurt on the side.