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Lamb Köfte with Grilled Poblanos and Yogurt Sauce

Standing under the awning of a street vendor in Turkey, Joyce Goldstein tasted these spicy, hot köfte (meat patties) slathered with cold yogurt sauce for the first time. They can be grilled, broiled or fried on a griddle like hamburgers. Alternatively, the mixture can be wrapped around skewers, then broiled or grilled.

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  • Servings: 6

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  • 2 slices firm-textured white bread
  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • 1 cup coarsely grated onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 poblano peppers
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing
  • 6 pita breads
  • Tomato Sauce with Cumin
  • Yogurt Sauce, at room temperature


  1. In a large bowl, cover the bread with water. Pour off the water and squeeze the water out of the bread. Add the lamb, onion, garlic, parsley, mint, cumin, paprika, salt, black pepper, cinnamon and cayenne to the bowl. Using your hands, knead the mixture until smooth. Divide the mixture into 12 portions and, with lightly moistened hands, form into oval patties about 1 inch thick. Refrigerate the patties until chilled, about 30 minutes, or for up to 1 day.
  2. Light a grill or preheat the broiler and position a rack 8 inches from the heat. Brush the poblanos lightly with oil and grill or broil, turning, until charred all over. Transfer them to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let steam for 10 minutes. Peel, core and seed the poblanos, then thinly slice them.
  3. Brush the patties with oil and grill or broil for 6 minutes per side, or until browned and firm to the touch. Grill or broil the pitas for about 1 minute, turning once, until heated through. Tear the pitas into large pieces and arrange them in an overlapping layer on a large platter. Pour the Tomato Sauce with Cumin over the pitas and top with the lamb patties. Spoon some of the Yogurt Sauce over all and garnish with the roasted poblano strips. Serve immediately and pass the remaining Yogurt Sauce separately.

Suggested Pairing

The berry fruit in a hearty Zinfandel will stand up to the lamb spices as well as the tart sauces.

Contributed By Published August 2000

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