Kofta Kabobs were one of the ‘winning’ dishes I prepared on Guy’s Grocery Games! Ground lamb, Mediterranean spices tightly packed around a kabob stick and roasted to perfection.
Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games
While competing on FOOD NETWORK’S GUY’S GROCERY GAMES, we were asked to prepare a meal that speaks of your family, something they typically like.
Since I am from a Mediterranean heritage (Syrian), lamb is often served when we have a family gathering.
But, on GGG we are given only 30 minutes to shop, cook and plate! So, it was a no brainer, Lamb Kofta Kabobs were going to be on my plate!
What Is Koftas?
The word Kofta, Kafta, or Kefta is really all the same thing, depending on what parts of the Middle East and the Mediterranean they are from.
In short, they are mini-meatloaves or meatballs! Street Food! Nothing says ‘street food’ better than food on a stick; which by the way is one of my favorite ways to serve ‘kid food’.
Mediterranean Kofta Kabobs
Koftas are really just giant meatballs, ground meat rolled into a sausage shape and cooked either with or without a skewer stick in the center.
When having a large gathering of family and friends, nothing could be easier to prepare a day or two in advance, then cooked on the grill or in a hot oven.
Kids love them just as is on a stick, while adults will often appreciate a good flat bread with toppings, or over a bed of rice pilaf.
Tips For Forming Koftas
The trick in getting this ground meat mixture to stay on a stick is to puree the meat and Mediterranean spice mixture, into a paste-like consistency.
You can also knead the mixture really well, as you would knead bread.
I did neither while on camera, thus you will see they fell apart. Never again! How embarrassing on national TV, even though I won. (wink)
In my defense, while having an amazing blast on Grandma Grocery Games with Guy Fieri and his mom Penny, we had a crazy challenge.
When asked to prepare a favorite meal that speaks of family, to us; we had to choose two (of several), ingredients that were going to be scattered throughout Flavortown grocery store.
Flavortown, for those who may not know, first came to life on Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, Guy Fieri’s first program. On camera he once said, ‘This pizza looks like a manhole cover in Flavortown’. So, he takes iconic food items, and gives them iconic food moments.
This day, in his grocery, on camera, along with three other wildly fun grandmas, he posed an iconic food item challenge for us to turn it into an iconic food moment!
Family Favorites On Guy’s Grocery Games
I already knew, the moment he asked us to cook something that speaks of our family, that I would do something traditional with lamb, a recipe of ground meat that has become known worldwide. But then when he gave us e challenge to have to incorporate 2 other weird, ‘iconic ingredients’, we all froze for a moment.
Tapioca pudding, Prunes, Bran flakes, cookies of some sort, and a few other items, were some of our choices. I chose prunes and bran flakes. I used the bran flakes in place of bread/panko crumbs, and I knew dried fruit pairs well with lamb. So… those two ingredients are what went into my Kofta Kabobs.
Guy’s Grocery Games Humorous Ingredients
Prunes and Bran Flakes in my Kofta? Note, that you will never see those two ingredients in my kabobs again!
Here is what went wrong; prunes are a fruit sugar, a plum, that when dried, becomes a very sugary, deliciously sweet, new version of its original form.
When stewing lamb, such as in a Tagine, which is a flavor-filled mix of meat, poultry, fish or simply vegetables and legumes, cooked slow in a clay pot, with lots of fresh herbs and dried fruits.
The sugar in a dried fruit actually acts to tenderize meat. But in a ground meat mixture? With hopes to stay on a stick? Ohhhhh how I struggled in those 30-minutes!
Bran Flakes In My Kabobs?
Putting the bran flakes in the blender to grind into almost a flour, was brilliant, even if I say so myself. It helped to bind the mix together. In thinking back, had I put less prunes, and an extra pound of ground lamb, the Kofta would have been… well, iconic!
In looking back also, I think what saved my dish was the Tzatziki I whipped up fast, to go on top of the kofta kabob. Also having thrown my pita bread on the grill for a second on both sides, after having brushed it with olive oil, something I wasn’t sure I had time for, but thankfully did.
Cooking Advice From My Son
It had lovely grill marks, a bit of a crunch, so it had texture, and the olive oil gave the bread a golden sheen after grilling it. I am sure I got an extra point or two for grilling the bread, thanks to my chef son for advising me.
“Ma”, he said, “if you serve any type of sandwich or burger, always get some grill marks on the bread. “It adds texture to what might otherwise be considered, boring bread and effortless on your part”! Don’t you just love when your kids teach you things!
Cooking For National TV
Sharing a family favorite on national TV, in a cooking competition, Food Network’s finest – Guy Fieri, was one of the more exciting memories of my life, win or lose, even though winning made it extra special!
I am delighted to share with you the original recipe for lamb kofta kabobs I would normally make for my family, without bran and prunes!
Serving Ideas For Kofta Kabobs
There are so many ways to serve kofta kabobs, though on pita bread with toppings is the best. Here are just a few topping ideas:
- Tzatziki – A cucumber, mint and yogurt mixture. I make this nearly everyday throughout summer and use it on so many dishes. It is a refreshing addition to lamb.
- Tomatoes chopped small with lime, salt and fresh herbs.
- Sweet peppers, chopped into long thin strips and marinated in champagne vinegar, olive oil, salt and some heat (such as ghost chili powder).
- Feta cheese
- Lettuce, shredded into long thin slices.
Crab Cakes For Guy’s Grocery Games
If you watch the video all the way through, you will see that I shared another family favorite while cooking in Flavortown on Guys Grandma Grocery, that truly was a hit; Crab Cakes!
I don’t remember if it was edited into the show but Robert Irvine, who was one tough judge, took a bite and said, “I would put this on any menu across America”! Once again, a tip shared with me by my son Omar Daumit, the night before the show was being filmed.
Professional Chefs vs Home Cooks
Omar Daumit, my son, is an absolutely incredible chef in his mid-thirties, something my mom predicted nearly 20-years ago he would be.
When he was eleven-years of age, he spent a day with my mother, helping her cook Syrian food for a family reunion we were having. I cooked some things at my home and she asked if she could have one of the kids to help her that day, since all my kids have been proficient in the kitchen since they were little. I asked which one (I have four). She said, ‘give me Omar’.
That evening, when I picked him up, she said, ‘that one… that one is going to be your chef”!
The Crab Cake recipe I made on television, Omar’s Crab Cake recipe, can be found through the link. Thank you for sharing in this fabulous fun time with me, one of three (and my favorite), cooking experiences I have had with Food Network!
- Ground lamb
- Lemon juice
- Black cumin
- Cayenne pepper
- Panko crumbs
- Mixing bowl
- Food processor
- Cutting board
- Chopping knife
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Kabob sticks
- Griddle or large cast iron pan
Kofta Kabobs for Guy’s Grocery GamesCourse: MeatCuisine: Mediterranean
Ground lamb, Mediterranean spices of sumac, coriander, black cumin and more, tightly packed around a kabob stick and roasted to perfection.
Ground lamb (or beef) – 2 pounds
Onion – 1 medium
Garlic – 2 cloves
Lemon juice – 1 tablespoon
Fresh Oregano – 1/4 cup, or 1 tablespoon dried
Spices – 1 heaping teaspoon of each: Sumac, Coriander, Black Cumin or Rosemary
Salt – 1 tablespoon
Cayenne pepper – 1/4 teaspoon
Panko crumbs – 1/4 cup
- Preheat oven to 400
- Place everything in a food processor or blender and puree. Add meat and pulse until it starts to stick together. Transfer to a large bowl, and knead the mixture, as you would bread, until it begins to form a paste-like texture.
- Divide and roll into balls, the amount you desire to make. Then roll them into long sausage shapes and slide a skewer through the center. (If using wooden skewers, be certain to soak them in water for an hour first so they don’t burn).
- *Kofta on stick and Kofta video
- Bake for 20 minutes, then switch to broil and brown the tops for just a few seconds, but watch so they don’t burn. Or grill the Koftas over fire, turning often so they don’t