Kofta Sandwiches with Tomatoes & Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

These sandwiches are a great weeknight dinner. Using ground turkey or chicken instead of beef, lamb or pork makes them a little bit lighter as well.

After seeing sandwiches served in taco racks at NYC’s Chelsea Market, I used taco racks to assemble these messy sandwiches. Genius! 😉

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. I used ground turkey instead of ground chicken and added lemon juice, garlic, and herbs to the sauce.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1.25 pounds ground turkey or chicken
  • 1/2 white onion, diced small
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley and cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced large (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 1/2 a lemon, more to taste
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 2 to 4 T minced fresh dill
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 2 handfuls of grape tomatoes, sliced lengthwise or 2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 4 small naan or pitas, warmed
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint or cilantro, for serving
  • sliced or chopped red onion, for serving, optional
  1. In a large bowl, combine ground meat, diced onion, chopped parsley/cilantro, cumin and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Mix until well combined.
  2. Using your hands, form mixture into 8 oval patties.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss together cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and dill; season with salt and pepper. Add additional lemon juice, if desired.
  4. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium to medium-high. Cook patties until browned on all sides and cooked through, 8 to 12 minutes. (I cooked the meatballs until the internal temperature reached 165 degrees.)
  5. Divide patties and tomatoes among warm naan or pitas. (I assembled the sandwiches in taco racks.)
  6. Top with cucumber-yogurt sauce and mint or cilantro. Top with red onion, if desired.
  7. Fold to enclose (if not using taco racks) and serve.

Sheet Pan Meatballs with Chickpeas, Turmeric, and Lemon

This is a wonderful weeknight sheet-pan dish. It was full-flavored and relatively healthy too. I think I’m in love with crispy roasted chickpeas!

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com, where the dish was loosely based on a New York Times sheet-pan chicken dish that I’ve also made and posted. I increased the amount of ground turkey, and meatball seasonings, size, as well as cooking time. I also used cumin seeds instead of fennel seeds.

We ate it with warm naan, brown Basmati rice, and roasted asparagus. The lemony red onions and yogurt toppings were essential and delicious.

Yield: Serves 6

Time: about 1 hour

For the Chickpeas:

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 3/4 cup panko
  • 6 tablespoons plain yogurt (I used 2% Greek yogurt)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a garlic press
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • heaping 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, hot paprika, or red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro, flat-leaf parsley or mint leaves, or a mix thereof, plus more to garnish

To Serve:

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (from about 3/4 of a lemon)
  • 7 oz (almost 1 cup) plain yogurt (I used 2% Greek yogurt)
  • toasted pita wedges or naan
  • harissa or another hot sauce, as desired
  • brown Basmati rice, for serving, if desired
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Combine chickpeas, cumin seed, cumin, 1 teaspoon turmeric and half the red onion slices on a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.
  4. Roast for 25 minutes, until beginning to firm/crisp up. (The red onions will start to get very crispy and charred.)
  5. Meanwhile, make meatball mixture. Mix all ingredients- except the ground meat- in a large bowl with a fork. Then incorporate the meat.
  6. Form into 1.75-inch (about 2 T) meatballs, about 15 large meatballs. (I used 3 small cookie scoop scoops for each meatball.)
  7. Remove sheet pan with chickpeas from the oven (leave oven on) and move the chickpeas to the sides of the pan, clearing a space in the center.
  8. Lightly coat center with a thin coat of oil, either brush or spray it on, just to be safe. Position the meatballs in the center of the pan; I made 3 rows of 5 meatballs. Place baking sheet in oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through, about 165 degrees in the center.
  9. Meanwhile, toss remaining onion slices with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and season with salt and pepper; set aside.
  10. Combine yogurt with remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice and season with salt and pepper; set aside.
  11. When meatballs are cooked, scatter remaining fresh herbs over the tray.
  12. Serve with lemony onions and yogurt, toasted pita wedges, rice, and hot sauce, as desired.

Two Years Ago: Broken Pasta with Shredded Pork & Arugula

Three Years Ago: Indian Butter Chicken

Four Years Ago: Caramel Chicken

Five Years Ago: Chicken Teriyaki Plate and Spaghetti & Turkey Meatballs

Turkish-Spiced Halibut Skewers With Yogurt Sauce

Many people grill year-round, but our grill hibernates during the winter. 😦 Thankfully, it is unseasonably warm here this week (Yay!), so I am going to share a couple of belated grilling recipes.

This first recipe is an adaptation of a Turkish dish typically made with local swordfish and fresh bay leaves. This version, from David Tanis of The New York Times, uses firm-fleshed halibut with thinly sliced lemons and onions. The fish is only marinated for an hour, grilled, and served with a wonderful and fresh cucumber-yogurt sauce.

We ate the skewers with hummus, warm naan, Israeli couscous, and steamed spinach on the side. If grilling season is over for you, this dish can easily be replicated using a broiler. Great!

  • 1 ½ pounds boneless halibut or other firm-fleshed fish
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and coarsely ground
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and coarsely ground
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small lemon, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced, plus 1 garlic clove, grated or smashed to a paste
  • 8 bay leaves
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 small cucumber, about 2 ounces, peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

  1. Cut halibut into large chunks of equal size and thread onto skewers. You should have 4 kebabs weighing about 6 ounces each.
  2. Lay them in a shallow dish. Season on both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. In a mixing bowl, put cumin, coriander, paprika, red pepper flakes, onion, lemon, minced garlic and bay leaves. Add olive oil and stir together.
  4. Spoon mixture over fish skewers and leave to marinate for at least 1 hour.
  5. Put yogurt in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, then add garlic paste, cayenne and cucumber.
  6. Mix mint, dill and parsley together, add half to yogurt mixture, and reserve the rest. Stir to combine. Set aside.
  7. Heat a grill or broiler. When it is hot, cook skewers for about 2 minutes per side, until just opaque. (Leave some lemon, onion and bay leaf clinging to fish, so they char a bit.)
  8. Transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle with remaining herb mixture, if desired. Serve with yogurt sauce on the side.

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Grilled Chicken Thighs with Chile-Yogurt Sauce

One of my friends has been teasing me about my fondness for chicken thighs!  I have several chicken thigh recipes to share and was initially trying to separate them with other posts… you know, to not get teased… 😉 Well, I decided to post them all consecutively instead- as a chicken thigh “festival” of sorts! 🙂 They are so versatile and tasty. Enjoy!

This quick and simple recipe results in super moist and tender chicken. The sauce provides the spiciness, so the heat level can easily be adjusted – or omitted (gasp!)- to taste.

We ate this delicious chicken with warm naan, Turkish Bulgur and Vegetable Pilaf, as well as grilled peppers, tomatoes, and red onions on the side. This recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine kebab recipe, contributed by Jimmy Bannos, Jr. of The Purple Pig in Chicago. Great!

  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika (I used Hungarian)
  • 15 boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat (for kebabs cut each thigh into 3 pieces)
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used fat free)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • lemon slices or wedges, for serving, optional
  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk 1/2 cup of the olive oil with the paprika. Add the chicken and toss to coat; let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the yogurt, lemon juice, cayenne, crushed red pepper and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper and mix well.
  4. Light a grill. For kebabs: Thread 3 pieces onto each of 8 skewers. (We grilled the thighs whole.)
  5. Oil the grate and grill the chicken over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  6. Transfer the skewers to a serving platter and serve with the yogurt sauce and lemon wedges.

Note: The yogurt sauce can be refrigerated overnight.

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