Spicy Lamb and Chicken Kofta

Kofta over steamed rice and salad on a plate.

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 These Spicy Lamb and Chicken Kofta are easy to make, beautifully spiced, and can be cooked on an indoor grill pan or outdoor grill. Serve with your choice of sides, toppings and sauces for a delicious meal any day of the week!



For the Spicy Lamb and Chicken Kofta:

  • ½ medium Red Onion – finely chopped
  • 6 Garlic Cloves – finely chopped
  • 24 fresh Red Chilies (I used Thai Bird’s Eye, but any small hot red chilies will work), to taste – finely chopped
  • 2 TBLS chopped fresh Italian Parsley
  • 2 TBLS chopped fresh Coriander (Cilantro)
  • 227 grams / 8 ounces Ground Lamb
  • 240 grams / 8.5 ounces Ground Chicken
  • ½ TSP freshly cracked Black Pepper
  • 1.5 TSP Kosher Salt (use half the amount if using iodized table salt)
  • ½ TSP Coriander Powder
  • ¼ TSP ground Cumin
  • ½ TSP ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ TSP ground Nutmeg
  • ¾ TSP Garam Masala (homemade preferred but store-bought is fine too)
  • 1 TSP ground Cayenne, to taste
  • ¼ TSP ground Cardamom
  • ¼ TSP Dried Thyme
  • ½ TSP Za’atar (see note 1)
  • ½ TSP Sumac (see note 1)
  • 1 TBLS Harissa Paste (see note 2)
  • 1 TBLS Double Concentrated Tomato Paste
  • 1 TBLS freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1.5 TBLS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 TBLS Olive Oil (for cooking)

To Serve (optional sides/toppings/condiments):

  • Cooked Rice or Rice Pilaf
  • Pita Bread – pan toasted/warmed
  • Cucumber slices
  • Cherry Tomatoes (or chopped garden tomatoes) – halved
  • Red Onion slices
  • Italian Parsley – chopped
  • Toasted Pine Nuts
  • Arugula salad
  • Kebab Shop Garlic Sauce
  • Cilantro and Mint Sauce
  • Spicy Harissa Mayo
  • Tahini Sauce


  1. Prep: Finely chop the red onion, garlic, fresh red chilies, coriander, and parsley. Transfer to a food processor bowl and process until finely minced.
  2. Marinate the meat: Combine the ground lamb, ground chicken, the processed aromatics and herbs, all of the spices and seasonings, harissa chili paste, double concentrated tomato paste, lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Mix using your hands until combined well. Transfer the mixture to an airtight sealed container. Place in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight for best flavor.
  3. Assemble the kofta: Take out the marinated meat from the fridge 30 minutes before you plan to cook the kofta to take the chill off. Form into 2-inch long and 1-inch thick oblong shapes. (You can form them on metal or wooden skewers or without.)
  4. Grill: Brush 2 tablespoons of oil in a cast iron or nonstick grill pan or griddle and heat over medium-high heat. (See note 4 to cook on an outdoor grill.) Place 5-6 kofta on the grill pan (depending on the size of your pan) and grill each side for 4-5 minutes until cooked through or to your desired doneness. Use tongs to turn the kofta onto their sides and cook each side for 30 seconds. Transfer to a clean plate and repeat until all the kofta are cooked.
  5. To Serve: Serve hot with your choice of sides, toppings, and sauces.



  1. Za’atar and Sumac: Za’atar is a spice blend usually made with dried thyme, sumac, sesame seeds, and occasionally other spices and dried herbs depending on the regional variation. Sumac is a Middle Eastern spice with a dark maroon color and lemony flavor. They are available at Middle Eastern/Mediterranean grocery stores and online. Omit the za’atar if you don’t have it on hand. Add an extra splash of lemon juice to the meat marinade to replace the sumac.
  2. Harissa Paste: This is a smoky and slightly spicy Tunisian hot chili pepper paste that is made with roasted red peppers and other spices and herbs. Look for it in the Middle Eastern aisle of your local supermarket, Middle Eastern/Mediterranean grocery stores, or order it online.
  3. Adjust spice level to taste. Feel free to use more or less (or omit completely) of the fresh red chilies, ground cayenne, and harissa to make the kofta milder.
  4. To cook on an outdoor grill: I recommend shaping the kofta into longer (3 to 4-inch long) oblong pieces) if using an outdoor grill. To grill them, grease the grill grates and preheat to medium-high heat. Place the kofta on the grill and cook each side for 4-5 minutes until cooked through or to your desired doneness.
  5. Make ahead: After assembling the kofta, freeze them on the tray until solid. Transfer to a sealed airtight container or Ziploc bag lined with foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge the day before you want to cook them. Grill as per instructions on a grill pan/griddle or on an outdoor grill.
  6. Storing and reheating. Kofta will keep in an airtight sealed container for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. They can be reheated in the microwave for 30-50 seconds or until hot throughout.
  7. Cook time: Total cook time indicated in the recipe card does not account for the 2-4 hours/overnight marinating time for the meat mixture.


Keywords: kofta, chicken kofta, lamb kofta