I know a recipe is a winner when Curtis tells me he likes it more than once. Ever-efficient, the man is simply not one to waste breath on repetition, so when something gets a second round of praise, I know it’s going into our regular rotation.
Truth be told, I don’t even think I’ve ever had a “real” kofta, the little Middle Eastern meatball spiced with ingredients like cinnamon and nutmeg, but the urge to make a batch had gripped me suddenly on Saturday afternoon, a craving that demanded attention. I had to consult my copy of Jerusalem, drawing some inspiration from Sami and Yotam. They used a lot of ingredients that I don’t have on hand – pine nuts, chiles, and…you know, meat – but it allowed me wrap my brain around the prospective flavor. These are anything but authentic, so consider them more “inspired” by the traditional dish.
Don’t let the spice combination deter you from making these. This was my first use of cinnamon and nutmeg in a savory application, but it certainly won’t be the last. The addition of the spices make the whole dish feel delightfully exotic, even enjoyed from my West Philadelphia kitchen. They probably won’t win any beauty contests, but they are delicious for sure.
Curtis and I ate our kofta for lunch in our favorite summertime application – a huge, refreshing salad. This one included crisp romaine, sliced cucumbers, herbed zucchini rice, roasted red peppers, toasted sunflower seeds, and was covered in tahini dressing – all perfect accompaniments to the subtly sweet kofta.
makes 48 neatballs
12 cups water or vegetable broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 cups vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups cold vegetable broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cold water
3 tablespoons mild-tasting oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1. Bring 12 cups water/broth and 1/4 cup soy sauce to a boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine wheat gluten, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, pepper, paprika, and red pepper flakes. In a small measuring cup, combine cold broth, water, soy sauce, oil, and garlic. Add to dry ingredients and mix with hands or a spoon until the moisture is absorbed. The dough will feel pretty dry at this point – don’t worry! Turn the dough out and knead as best you can for 1-2 minutes.
3. Divide the dough into 48 even pieces and use your hands to shape into balls, torpedo-shapes, or just leave them as cubes. Drop the kofta into the broth and simmer for one hour, being careful not to let the broth come to a boil (nobody likes a spongy neatball). You’ll know they’re done when they poof up and bob to the surface. Remove from broth and let cool. Pat dry and fry in oil, or store simmered pieces in the fridge.
4. To serve, fry the kofta in a small amount of mild-tasting oil until brown on all sides. Tuck into a pita or place atop coarsely chopped greens. Drizzle with tahini if desired.
Nutrition per Kofta: 45 calories, 2g carbs, 0g fiber, 1g fat, 7g protein