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Kofte: a new spin on meatballs
Milk Street Bowtie Turkish Meatballs with Lime Yogurt Sauce

Turkish Meatballs with Lime Yogurt Sauce

20 minutes Plus cooling

Free

These crisp, patty-shaped meatballs developed a flavorful crust from pan-frying. This recipe also works with a blend of lamb and beef. We heated the spices, shallots and garlic in oil in the microwave to draw out their flavors. We loved the meatballs stuffed into pita pockets with sliced tomato, cucumber, red onion and flat-leaf parsley. Tangy yogurt sauce spiked with lime juice and cayenne made for a bright counterpart. 

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, grated (1 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (8-inch) pita bread, torn into small pieces (about 3 ounces)
1/4 cup whole-milk plain yogurt
1/4 cup water
1 cup packed fresh mint leaves, (1-ounce) finely chopped
1½ pounds 90-percent lean ground beef
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
3 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the meatballs
  • 3

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1

    medium shallot, finely chopped

  • 1

    garlic clove, grated (1 teaspoon)

  • ½

    teaspoon ground cumin

  • ½

    teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½

    teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1

    (8-inch) pita bread, torn into small pieces (about 3 ounces)

  • ¼

    cup whole-milk plain yogurt

  • ¼

    cup water

  • 1

    cup packed fresh mint leaves, (1-ounce) finely chopped

  • pounds 90-percent lean ground beef

  • teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1

    teaspoon ground black pepper

For the lime yogurt sauce
  • 1

    cup plain whole-milk yogurt

  • 3

    tablespoons tahini

  • 3

    tablespoons lime juice

  • ½

    teaspoon kosher salt

  • ¼

    teaspoon cayenne pepper

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Turkish Meatballs with Lime Yogurt Sauce

Get Ready to Cook

4

Servings

20 minutes

Plus cooling

Tip

Don’t use stale bread for the meatballs. The fresh pita bread added light texture and fresh flavor that stale bread couldn't. Likewise, use whole-milk plain yogurt, not Greek-style to get the right consistency in both the meatballs and the sauce.

For the meatballs
  • 3

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1

    medium shallot, finely chopped

  • 1

    garlic clove, grated (1 teaspoon)

  • ½

    teaspoon ground cumin

  • ½

    teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½

    teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1

    (8-inch) pita bread, torn into small pieces (about 3 ounces)

  • ¼

    cup whole-milk plain yogurt

  • ¼

    cup water

  • 1

    cup packed fresh mint leaves, (1-ounce) finely chopped

  • pounds 90-percent lean ground beef

  • teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1

    teaspoon ground black pepper

For the lime yogurt sauce
  • 1

    cup plain whole-milk yogurt

  • 3

    tablespoons tahini

  • 3

    tablespoons lime juice

  • ½

    teaspoon kosher salt

  • ¼

    teaspoon cayenne pepper

Step 1 of 3

Microwave shallot and spices in oil

2
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1
medium shallot, finely chopped
1
garlic clove, grated (1 teaspoon)
½
teaspoon ground cumin
½
teaspoon ground cinnamon
½
teaspoon dried oregano

In a small bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons olive oil, the shallot, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, and oregano. Microwave until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then set aside to cool.  

Step 2 of 3

Roll the meatballs

1
(8-inch) pita bread, torn into small pieces (about 3 ounces)
¼
cup whole-milk plain yogurt
¼
cup water
1
cup packed fresh mint leaves, (1-ounce) finely chopped
pounds 90-percent lean ground beef
teaspoons kosher salt
1
teaspoon ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine the pita bread, yogurt and water and and use your hands to mash the mixture to a smooth paste. Add the reserved oil mixture, the mint, beef, salt and pepper. Use your hands to thoroughly mix.


Divide meat into 12 portions and use your hands to roll each into smooth balls. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. 

Step 3 of 3

Cook beef meatballs in skillet, prepare the lime yogurt sauce, and serve

1
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1
cup plain whole-milk yogurt
3
tablespoons tahini
3
tablespoons lime juice
½
teaspoon kosher salt
¼
teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon oil over medium-high until just beginning to smoke. Add the meatballs and use a metal spatula to press them into ½-inch-thick patties.


Cook over medium heat, adjusting the heat as necessary, until the meatballs register 140 degrees, cooked through, and are well browned on both sides, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter, tent with foil and let rest 5 minutes. 


In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt, tahini, lime juice, salt and cayenne until smooth.

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