They look like little cigars on a skewer. They're full of coriander, cumin, caraway, cilantro, parsley, onion, red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper, and very lean venison. Incredibly spicy, grilled medium, piping hot! Wrap them in a whole wheat pita, layer on some yogurt and hot spicy Harissa and you have a Moroccan hotdog!
Just kidding ...
The only thing I would add next time is a batch of chilled, thinly sliced sweet peppers and onions tossed with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper. Really tasty!
The meat for Kefta is ground extra fine; I whizzed the meat in the food processor for a few seconds to get the consistency right and while I used venison, you could use ground beef or ground lamb. The onions are also whizzed to make a grated consistency. Everything else get thrown into a bowl and you have to use your hands to distribute the ground spices and chopped herbs - a bit messy, but effective. Then, just divide the meat mixture evenly and smush it around skewers, grill about 4 minutes on each side, warm the pita breads while the kofta grill, and serve 'em up!
A cold fruity salad that cools your palate works well with this dish ... we had a chilled grapefruit and fennel salad. The citrus was perfect on the tongue after all that spice! SB didn't care for the fennel, but I thought the sweet anise flavour was a perfect foil to the tartness of the grapefruit. We agreed to disagree.
Venison Kefta with Yogurt and Harissa
2 ½ c. ground venison meat
1 small onion, grated
1 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 ¼ tsp. coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1 tsp. caraway seeds, crushed
1 tsp. smoked paprika
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 scant tsp. Kosher salt
1 small handful each fresh flat leaf parsley and cilantro, finely chopped
Drizzle olive oil
Making the Kefta:
- Place the venison in a food processor bowl and ‘pulse’ a couple seconds at a time until the grind of the meat is fine BUT not mushy.
- Turn the venison into a deep bowl.
- Place the onion in the bowl and pulse into a fine grate. Add it to the vensison.
- Toast the cumin and coriander seeds and grind them in a spice mill or coffee grinder to a fine powder.
- Use a mortar and pestle to grind the caraway seed.
- Add the spices and prepped herbs to the meat with the onion and use your hands to smush everything together thoroughly.
- Slap the ball of meat down in the bowl to compress it and get all the air out.
- Divide the meat into six equal clumps.
- Drizzle a bit of olive oil on your hands and form the meat clumps around six skewers, making cigar-shaped kabobs that are about five inches long.
- Rub a bit more olive oil on your hands and rub the oil on the outer surface of each kabob.
- Place the kabobs on a heated grill pan or under the broiler or on a prepped grill.
- Wrap three to six pita bread rounds in foil and warm on the grill or in the oven while the kefta kabobs cook.
- Grill the kefta for 4 minutes then turn them and continue grilling for another 4 minutes.
- Serve the kefta with a bowl of harissa and a bowl of cold plain yogurt.
Notes: 1) If you don’t have harissa, you can use a hot spicy tomato pepper Indian chutney or a hot spicy salsa (but it’s not quite the same). 2) This dish goes very well with a citrus-y fruit salad as a side – grapefruit slices, a fennel bulb slivered, black olives, some cumin seed, some olive oil, some Kosher salt, black pepper, some scallions rings … toss and serve chilled to cleanse the palate.