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Ground Lamb and Shallot Kebabs with Pomegranate Molasses

Burhan Cagdas makes ground-meat kebabs (kofta) from hand-chopped lamb mixed with diced lamb-tail fat. In place of the fat, Paula Wolfert uses crème fraîche, which keeps the meat rich-tasting and meltingly tender.

slideshow  More Middle Eastern Recipes

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4

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  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 12 large shallots—peeled, halved lengthwise and root ends trimmed but kept intact
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped scallions
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Warm pita bread, for serving


  1. Light a grill. In a medium bowl, gently knead the crème fraîche, garlic, salt and pepper into the ground lamb. Using moistened hands, roll the ground lamb mixture into 16 balls. On each of 8 short metal skewers (10 inches or less), alternate 3 shallot halves with 2 lamb balls. Brush the kebabs with the olive oil and grill over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned on the outside (but not cooked through), about 3 minutes.
  2. Transfer the kebabs to a very large (12 to 14 inches), deep skillet. Add the water, 1 teaspoon of the pomegranate molasses and the lemon juice; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer gently over low heat until the shallots are very tender and the meatballs are cooked through, about 30 minutes.
  3. Uncover and increase the heat to high. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of pomegranate molasses and cook, basting occasionally, until the meatballs and shallots are glazed, about 5 minutes.
  4. Transfer the kebabs to a platter and drizzle with any remaining sauce. Garnish with the scallions and parsley and serve with warm pita bread.

Suggested Pairing

The fruity glaze on these kebabs is echoed nicely by a ripe Southern Italian red like Primitivo, which grows primarily in the fertile vineyards of Apulia.

Contributed By Photo © James Baigrie Published June 2006

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