Mince makes life easier and that's why we love it. If like me, however, you spend far too much time falling into the safe but boring arms of bolognese, this recipe could be that dangerous and exciting escape route you've been searching for. It's quick and easy and has the mild and fragrant spiciness that's the hallmark of Middle Eastern cookery. Try eating it simply with flatbread or make it into a Middle Eastern extravaganza with few different salads and a pilaf.
600g beef or lamb mince, or a mix
1 small onion, very finely chopped
3 handfuls of parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 tsp sumac, plus extra, to serve
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds, ground
1 tsp coriander seeds, ground
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp olive oil
For the tomato sauce
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp allspice berries, ground
3 x 400g tin plum tomatoes, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
large flatbreads or pitta
Pul bieber (Turkish chilli flakes)
A small tub of Greek yoghurt
Make the tomato sauce first. Heat the oil in a large deep pan over a medium heat and add the onions and garlic and a pinch of salt. Gently fry, stirring occasionally, for about 10-12 minutes until soft and sweet. Stir in the allspice, cook for a further minute, then add the washed plum tomatoes, crushing them up as they go into the pan. Stir in the pomegranate molasses and add a little more salt and some pepper, the turn the heat down and leave to simmer for at least 45 minutes while you prepare the meat.
Place the mince in a large mixing bowl and add the other ingredients. Season well and mix with your hands. Put a frying pan on the heat and fry a tiny bit of the meat so you can check the seasoning. Add more chilli, salt or spice, as you like.
Take tablespoons-full of the meat and shape into little squash balls. Place in the fridge 30 minutes to firm up.
When you're ready to cook them, place a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and fry them in a dash of olive oil until browned all over. Have a look inside one – they should be a little pink and still juicy. As each ones cooks, add to the tomato sauce. These can sit like this for several hours if need be, just reheat when you're ready.
To serve, gently warm up the flatbread and lay out on a big board or plate. Spoon the kofte and the sauce over, followed a some big dollops of cold yoghurt. Finish with an extra sprinkle of sumac and Turkish chilli.