Lamb Kofta Saffron Sauce

Koftas are a personal favorite of mine, a meatball dish popular in Mediterranean, Balkans,North Africa, Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia. Koftas typically consists of ground meat either beef, lamb, chicken or in Greek and Balkans pork and veal, or a mixture of any of the above. In Eastern India, koftas made of fish, shrimp, cabbage, cottage cheese are also common in addition to the meat koftas. Koftas are like paintings, every country has a variety of koftas of different shapes. Typically it’s a meatball, however cigar like shaped koftas are quite common in the Middle East and Mediterranean. Interestingly, the popular British dish Scotch Eggs may have been inspired by the Indian dish “Nargisi Kofta” , which originated during the Moghul Empire in the medieval era.

This particular recipe of koftas uses ground lamb, and is well complimented by a spicy saffron coconut sauce making it a perfect appetizer or a meal fix when you are are pressed for time. The meatballs can be made in advance and frozen. This recipe for koftas is a family recipe, however I have added a bit of Mediterranean touch with smoked paprika which gives the meatballs an extra dimension of flavor. The sweet, spicy, smoky flavors of the meatball and the sauce are best accompanied with a gin and tonic.

Lamb Koftas in Saffron Sauce

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Serving Size: 2


    For the Kofta:
  • 400 gm ground lamb
  • 2 finely chopped shallot
  • 5 cloves of finely chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 green chili , de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 6 sprigs of chopped coriander
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 slices of white bread , crumbs removed and soaked in water or milk
  • 1 whole egg, salt and pepper to season
  • Olive oil for frying the meatballs
  • For the Saffron Sauce:
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 1 Thai Bird’s eye chili, de-seeded and chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 4-5 slices of ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, salt to season
  • 1/2 gm saffron
  • 2 tablespoon of coconut oil


  • In a bowl mix all the ingredients for the meatball, except the olive and make small bite sized meatballs. The size can be altered to suit your preference. After making the meatballs , let it refrigerate in the fridge for 1-2 hrs so that it’s nice and firm and doesn’t disintegrate during frying.
  • Remove the meatballs from the fridge and fill oil in a pan. Fry the meatballs till they are nicely browned , then remove from oil and let it rest on a kitchen towel to absorb the excess oil. You can shallow fry or bake in the oven for a healthier option.
  • While the meatballs rest in a shallow pan heat the coconut oil, add the garlic, lemon zest, ginger, chili and cook till they are soft and emanate an aromatic flavor. At this stage add the coconut milk, salt and sugar and bring the sauce to a boil. Let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add the saffron to the sauce and let it simmer a further 10 minutes, so that you get a aromatic sauce orange in color. I prefer to serve them as shown below and garnished with chopped parsley, however you can also pour the sauce over the meatballs.


Lamb Koftas in Saffron Sauce

Tagged on: