Oh my gosh. Sometimes I feel like I eat the same thing every single day of the week. Do you also feel just as exasperated and dejected when you open the fridge and there is nothing – ABSOLUTELY nothing you want to eat?
“I see cucumber, kimchi, soy sauce, few sprigs of cilantro…”
“NO I MEANT actual food.”
“Well an apple? or that rotting lemon at the back?”
This is the moment when you look at each other and feel at lost. What do we do now?
Well its Thursday night. 7pm. And I have this intense craving for Japanese sashimi, or meat ragu/bolognese (like the one last week). Ok. Now I’m just impatient and maybe slightly spoilt from cooking exotic dishes all the time. This is exactly when hunger, survival instincts start kicking in and you force every ounce of creativity you’ve ever possessed out. What can I make….that tastes good?
Wheels start turning. The scan mode is on.
At this moment, I wish I had a photographic memory for all the recipes I have ever read or stumbled across. If you’ve never watched hotforfood – they are absolute experts at creating fancy, vegan meals just from ingredients already from the fridge (great way to spend an evening on youtube!). Unfortunately I was a college student without the luxury of a full fridge and an unlimited wallet to buy expensive ingredients. And definitely not as great of a cook as they are.
After thinking through for a while, and brainstorming for a bit (Don’t judge we are nerds when it comes to cooking), Zoe and I settled on Koftas. But we didn’t want just any Koftas – we wanted…something spicy, sweet, smokey…mmm. Can you see where this is heading?
If any of you don’t know what Koftas are -“Koftas” ( کوفته) has its roots in the Middle East – specifically Arabia and Persia. It literally means to “grind” or to “beat”. Koftas, in essence, is ground meat mixed with spices, herbs, and sometimes even cheese/vegetables/potatoes/egg/bulgur or rice – or in more familiar terms – a meatball. Growing up in HK, Koftas were not readily available nor well-known, the closest thing I had to it was Italian meatballs or Chinese beef balls. I would imagine that it is quite similar, but koftas are distinct due its flavorful combination of spices and the condiments it is served with.
As a result of conquests and expeditions across the globe, foreign culture and food was introduced to new areas as the military settled in. Now, variations of koftas (of all shapes and sizes) can be found across Southeast Asia, Turkey, Greece, India, Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon. For example, in India, round shaped koftas (made of cheese, meat, lentils, potatoes) are served in a rich curry sauce; whereas in Greece koftas are served with tzatziki (yogurt sauce). Other areas like Morocco, Palestine, Israel commonly serve koftas in stews or tagines. Across these regions, ground lamb, beef, mutton, pork are paired with a variety of spices and vegetables to create localized ethnic versions of this immensely versatile dish.
So, Zoe and I combined a variety of elements of street food koftas across regions with the flavors of Thailand to contribute something rather unique. We surfed through google and many kofta recipes came out, but found close to zilch for a kofta recipe with a Thai or Chinese flair (I mean being Chinese meant that most of my pantry was stocked full of Asian spices and condiments so thats all I had).
I PROMISE this is the answer to your prayers. Something, fast, speedy but super, duper delicious. Yes, if you’re like me – I’ll admit it I have a picky, expensive tastebud – and sometimes a salad or leftovers just won’t do it for you. Here is our genius idea:
THIS is our healthy Thai-inspired street food koftas served with an extra special sauce. We put a little sprinkleofvanillasugar twist on the traditional Yoghurt-Herb Tzatziki and spiked it with red curry paste = creating creating our very own luscious Red Curry Coconut Yoghurt Dip (WHICH IS TO DIE FOR).
Street Food made from scratch. An original kofta recipe that will never be found anywhere else. Unique, different and little exotic but perfect for a weeknights meal to satisfy any grumbling tummies.
Ingredients – serves 1-2
- 1/2 lb Organic Ground Turkey
- 1 tbsp Lime Juice
- 1 tsp Red Curry Paste
- 1/8 tsp Salt
- 1 tbsp Fish Sauce
- 1.5 tbsp Honey
- 1 clove Garlic, minced
- 1 tsp Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
Sauce: (You must serve it with this yogurt to balance out the saltiness and spiciness of the koftas)
- 1/4 cup Coconut Yogurt/ Any non-dairy Yogurt
- 1/2 tsp Red Curry Paste
- 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
- Garnish: coriander, sliced red chili, sliced cucumbers
How to Make:
- Combine all the ingredients for the koftas into a mixing bowl. Use you hands to mix all the ingredients together until well blended.
- Divide the batter into 6 equal parts and form “long, cylindrical” shaped koftas.
- Heat a non-stick pan over medium high. When the pan is searing hot, add your koftas.
- Sear each side for 2-3 minutes before turning to sear the other side for another 2-3 minutes. The sides should all be charred if your pan is hot enough. The batter is slightly harder to work with but if it is cooked through it should be easier to flip. It may be easier to use a spoon and spatula to turn each kofta.
- Set the koftas aside to rest for a couple minutes before serving.
- In another small bowl, mix together all the ingredients of the coconut-cilantro dip. Serve the koftas warm with rice and the sauce and some fresh cucumbers.
How to Serve:
Traditional Method: Traditionally koftas can be eaten plain (especially if served on the streets) or with some sort of creamy yogurt dressing, hummus or tahini. Most of the time, it is also eaten with flatbreads like a wrap or sandwich. Koftas are usually done on the grill, to create that beautiful black char and smoky flavor. It is also often shaped into long, thin sausage with skewers. Koftas most often will include egg and minced onions which helps hold the mince together. Fatty ground meats like lamb, pork or beef is preferred for a moist/tender texture.
Our Suggestions: We would definitely suggest serving with something light, but tangy to cut the richness of the koftas. This would be great with paleo flatbreads/tortillas, rice, quinoa, or anything you like. Feel free to add additional spices like lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, coriander leaves if you like for extra flavor.
Binding Ingredients: We decided to exclude the use of egg, but if you want the kofta to hold better you could add a little cornstarch and 1/2 an egg.
Skewers: The koftas are very delicate. If you want to use skewers, one suggestion is to cook them first and then skewer them after for presentation. Alternatively, you can make them into smaller portions so it is not as heavy and will hold together better. You could also add the binding ingredients above for a sturdier kofta. Using other ground meats like lamb, pork or beef (with a bit of fat) may help the koftas hold better if you want to skewer them due to their higher fat content.
Paleo: Be aware that not all brands of fish sauce is paleo, so check the ingredients at the back of the bottle. Also Thai sweet chili sauce can be made at home.
Sweet Chili Sauce: If you don’t want to add this you could alternatively add in 1 small fresh chili/red pepper flakes, additional honey, lime juice/tamarind to replicate that sweet-sour-spicy flavor.
Turkey Substitutes: Feel free to use beef, or pork or even chicken – all commonly used in Thai cooking. Minced lamb is a great alternative and is used a lot in Middle Eastern cooking. Turkey is lot less fatty which is our choice of meat.
Non-Spicy Alternative: Replace the Thai Sweet Chili Sauce with more honey and lime. Also consider subbing half of the red curry paste with soy sauce.
(This Post is featured on Gluten Free Fridays, Craft Frenzy Friday, No Rules Weekend Blog Party, Foodie Friday, Weekend Potluck, Friday Favorites, Flaunt it Friday, Family Fun Friday, Traffic Jam Weekend, Sugar and Spice, Sunday Fitness and Food, Saturday Sparks, My Favorite Things, Inspiration Monday, Inspire Me Mondays, Inspiration Spotlight, Dare to Share, Thank Goodness its Monday, Busy Monday 222, Made By You, Melt In Your Mouth Mondays, MMM, Get it Together, Mix It Up Mondays, Making Your Home Sing Monday,)
Zoe & Mia