If you are not familiar with lamb giaortlou kebab, you are really in for a treat! Spiced lamb kofta served over warm pitta bread with tomato sauce and yoghurt. Post sponsored by Tasty Easy Lamb.
The roots of ‘giaortlou’ are in Asia Minor and this Turkish recipe is very popular in Greece where I had a chance to sample it this summer. It is such a delicious dish – tender lamb with a wonderfully rich tomato sauce and yoghurt served over warm pitta breads. Yummo! as my son would say.
Traditionally kebabs are cooked on a barbecue but, since BBQ weather is in short supply at the moment, you can easily cook them on a griddle pan or under the grill. Lamb mince is perfect for kebabs as it has enough fat to prevent them from drying out and a wonderfully sweet taste that pairs well with Middle Eastern spices.
Making kofta is all about the spices and seasoning and even the best recipe can be improved by this very simple trick. Just fry a small amount of your kofta mix, taste it and adjust your spices and seasoning, if needed. My mum always tasted her mixture raw, but I am not recommending that!
Kofta retain their shape much better if you use flat and slightly broad bamboo skewers and they also benefit from being chilled for 30 minutes, or overnight, before cooking. Bring them back to room temperature when you are ready to fry them and brush them well with olive oil to prevent them from sticking to the griddle pan or BBQ.
By the way, the best pitta breads for this are Greek style without pockets (they resemble naan breads). They are easy to make from scratch if you follow my recipe but even store-bought ones will be fine if you fry them for a couple of minutes to warm them before serving.
It is up to you how you assemble your lamb giaortlou kebabs… Some people spread the tomato sauce over the pitta bread then nestle the kofta over it and drizzle with the yoghurt. Depends on what ratio of tomato sauce you prefer – I have added my tomato sauce over the top instead. You can also slice the pitta bread into wedges before topping with the rest of the ingredients.
Find many more tasty lamb recipes at Tasty Easy Lamb and be sure to check out my other lamb recipes
- Slow cooker lamb kleftiko
- Spicy Korean lamb with udon noodles
- Lamb keema pizza
- Slow cooker lamb rogan josh
- 2 roasted red peppers (from a jar)
- blitzed into a paste
- or 1 tsp Turkish red pepper paste (biber salçası)
- For the Tomato Sauce
- 2 tbsp of butter
- 400g | 14oz can chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp red pepper paste
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick (or 1 tsp ground cinnamon)
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- freshly ground black pepper
- For the lamb kofta
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 red onion, grated or very finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 500g | 1.1lb minced lamb
- 2 tbsp red pepper paste
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp hot paprika
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- olive oil, as needed, to cook the kofta
- For the Yogurt Sauce
- 500g | 1.1lb Greek-style yogurt 3 garlic cloves, minced 1 tbsp virgin olive oil
- You will need
- wooden skewers, soaked in water so they don’t burn
- flatbreads or pocketless pitta bread to serve
- 1 thinly sliced red onion to serve
- chopped parsley to garnish
- paprika to sprinkle
- If you can’t find Turkish red pepper paste (biber salçası) then you can blitz two long roasted red peppers (from a jar) into a paste. You will use the paste in both the tomato sauce and the kofta.
- Make the tomato sauce: heat the butter in a small pot and add the tomatoes, pepper paste, garlic and spices. Simmer until the sauce thickens, stirring occasionally – this can take up to 30 minutes. Check the seasoning and adjust if needed.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and sweat then onions and garlic until translucent and soft. Leave to cool slightly.
- Mix the lamb mince, onions and garlic, pepper paste, parsley and spice together. Chill for an hour or overnight to allow the flavours to develop. The best way to check the seasoning is to fry a small piece of the mince then taste it for flavour.
- Divide the lamb mix into 8 or 9 balls and then roll into a tube/sausage shape.
- Thread a skewer into each kofta and chill again, if possible, to allow them to firm up.
- Heat a griddle pan over medium-high heat. Brush the kofta with olive oil and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side.
- Mix the yoghurt with the minced garlic and olive oil.
- Serve your lamb kofta over a warm flatbreads and spoon over some yoghurt and tomato sauce. Top with sliced onions, chopped parsley and sprinkle with a little paprika.
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