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Lamb Kabobs with Pita

You can also shape the mixture into patties, grill them and serve tucked into pita bread. For the best flavor, make the raita a few hours in advance to let the flavors mingle. Raita is also good alongside grilled chicken or beef.

Ingredients:

For the raita

  • 3 1/2 cups plain yogurt, or 2 cups plain Greek yogurt 
  • 1 small English cucumber 
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed 
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh mint 
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh cilantro 
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cumin 
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper, plus more, to taste (optional) 
  •   
  • 3/4 cup minced yellow onion 
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed 
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro  
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh mint 
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 
  • 1 1/2 lb. ground lamb shoulder 
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste 
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
  • Vegetable oil for grill rack 
  • Pita bread rounds for serving 

Directions:

To make the raita, if using regular yogurt, spoon it into a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth placed over a bowl and refrigerate overnight, stirring the yogurt before you go to bed. When you wake up in the morning you will have about 2 cups of very thick yogurt and 1 cup or more of yogurt water. Discard the water and spoon the yogurt into a bowl. If using Greek yogurt, spoon into a bowl.

Peel the cucumber, halve lengthwise and scrape out any seeds with the tip of a small spoon. Grate on the large holes of a box grater-shredder or in a food processor fitted with the shredding attachment. Squeeze out the excess water from the cucumber with your hands until almost completely dry. You should have about 1 cup. Add to the yogurt.

Add the garlic, mint, cilantro, salt, cumin and cayenne and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the favors to blend, then taste and adjust the seasoning before serving.

Have ready 3 or 4 flat metal skewers, or soak 3 or 4 bamboo skewers in water to cover for at least 30 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the onion, garlic, cilantro, mint and parsley and mix well. Add the lamb and sprinkle with the cumin, salt and a few grindings of pepper. Quickly and gently mix with your hands to combine all of the ingredients evenly.

Divide the mixture into 12 equal portions, and shape into ovals. Drain the bamboo skewers, if using. Pick up a patty, stick the skewer lengthwise down the center, then repack the meat in the same shape around the skewer. Repeat, threading on 2 or 3 more ovals, depending on the length of the skewers, spacing them 1/2 inch apart. Place the skewer on a tray. Repeat until you have filled all of the skewers. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm up the meat before grilling.

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill and oil the grill rack. Season the kebabs lightly with salt and pepper. Place on the grill rack and cook, turning once, until golden on the outside and cooked through but still juicy, about 10 minutes on each side.

Transfer the skewers to a serving plate and let rest for 5 minutes. Then slide the kebabs off the skewers and serve immediately with the pita bread and raita. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Family Meals, by Maria Helm Sinskey (Oxmoor House, 2008).