By Elizabeth Gawthrop Riely These meatballs of ground lamb, spelled variously, can be found all over the Middle East, from Morocco (kefta) to Turkey (köfta) and India (kofta). They make a healthy and delicious change from beef. Here they are fragrant with cinnamon and mint, spicy with cumin and chili; bulgur lightens and moistens the texture. Use a pair of skewers to keep the balls from rotating, or make them double-sized for lamb burgers.

Makes 4 servings.


1/4 cup dried bulgur 1 pound ground lamb 1/4 cup scallions, finely chopped 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1/4 teaspoon cayenne or other dried hot chili pepper Salt and pepper to taste Olive oil


Put the bulgur in a small bowl and add 1/2 cup of water. Let it sit for half an hour or so, then drain off any unabsorbed water.

Preheat the grill. Put the lamb in a medium-size bowl. Add the softened bulgur, herbs, and spices. Mix it all up well with your hands and, without compacting it, shape into 8 balls (or 4 burgers). You can shape them right onto the skewers if you wish, using two in parallel for each ball. Brush with a little olive oil and grill for a few minutes on each side, until brown and crisp outside but pink and juicy on the inside. Yogurt and cucumbers with pita go well on the side.