Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Kefta Kebabs with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce

Middle Eastern cuisine features some of the world’s most aromatic dishes with rich, complex flavors derived from the use of multiple spices. Keftas (or koftas, kaftas, kuftahs, depending on the region) are a prime example.

These little meat patties, beloved as Moroccan street food, would be hardly more than ground lamb or beef on a stick if not for a variety of infused fragrant, savory, and earthy spices, including paprika, cumin, mint, turmeric, cinnamon, and chile flakes, among others.

Spices for the Lamb and Beef
For this dish, I balanced the flavorful meat with a rich, creamy sauce spooned over top. It’s lighter than it looks—made with tangy Greek yogurt, nutty tahini, and fat-free milk.

Yogurt and tahini produce a very thick combination, but the addition of milk and lemon thin it just a bit while still resulting in a rich, creamy consistency.

A common method of preparing keftas is to combine the meat and spices, shape them into ovals, and skewer. The kebabs are then grilled and served with sauce dolloped on top or on the side.

Here, I grilled the kebabs on a cast-iron griddle on the stovetop. You can grill them outside too—just keep an eye out for flare-ups that can scorch the meat.

Serves  4


For the Sauce
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 3 tbsp skim milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp crushed dried mint leaves
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
For the Kefta
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1/3 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp crushed dried mint leaves
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked white rice, for serving
Lamb, Beef, and Onion

For the Sauce
  1. Whisk the yogurt, tahini, milk, lemon juice, and mint in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. (Cover and refrigerate if not using within 1 hour.)
Tahini-Yogurt Sauce Ingredients 
Tahini-Yogurt Sauce
For the Kefta
  1. Place the lamb and beef in a large bowl. Add the next 7 ingredients (through red pepper flakes) and season with salt and pepper. Mix gently to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour (or overnight) to allow flavors to develop.
Meat Mixed with Spices
  1. Divide the mixture into 8 puffy, oval-shaped patties. Thread 2 kefta patties end-to-end on each of 4 skewers (soak wood skewers in water 30 minutes before using). Place the skewers on a plate or board and flatten slightly with your palm. (This helps the patties cook evenly.)
Patties Ready to Skewer 
Skewers Ready to Grill
  1. Heat a large cast-iron griddle over medium-high heat (use 2 burners, if necessary).
  2. Lay the kebabs on the griddle and grill until beginning to brown on the bottom, 3-4 minutes. Turn and grill until the other side is browned, 3-4 minutes.
Skewers Beginning to Grill
Skewers after Turning
  1. Continue to grill and turn until the meat is just cooked through, 15-16 minutes total, depending on thickness.  
  2. Remove from the griddle and let rest 5 minutes.
Grilled Kefta
To serve, divide the rice among 4 plates and place 1 kebab each on top. Dollop a little sauce over the meat and pass the remaining sauce at the table.

Kefta Kebabs with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce


  1. This looks amazing!! :) Def. putting this on the "to try" list.
    Thx for the inspiration!
    Pennie :)
    Check out my blog: http://www.themagickbox.blogspot.dk/

    1. Thanks much, Pennie---hope you enjoy it.

      And thanks for sharing your blog---good looking dishes!


  2. Love these. Thanks for linking to What'd You Do This Weekend.