08 July 2013

Venison Kefta with Harissa and Yogurt

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Turn the venison into a deep bowl.
  3. Place the onion in the bowl and pulse into a fine grate. Add it to the vensison.
  4. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds and grind them in a spice mill or coffee grinder to a fine powder.
  5. Use a mortar and pestle to grind the caraway seed.
  6. Add the spices and  prepped herbs to the meat with the onion and use your hands to smush everything together thoroughly.
  7. Slap the ball of meat down in the bowl to compress it and get all the air out.
  8. Divide the meat into six equal clumps.
  9. 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.
  10. Rub a bit more olive oil on your hands and rub the oil on the outer surface of each kabob.
  11. Place the kabobs on a heated grill pan or under the broiler or on a prepped grill.
  12. Wrap three to six pita bread rounds in foil and warm on the grill or in the oven while the kefta kabobs cook.
  13. Grill the kefta for 4 minutes then turn them and continue grilling for another 4 minutes.
  14. 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.


  1. Luckily, living next to a large city filled with many immigrants our supermarkets are filled with ethnic foods. I'm sure harissa is available to me. This looks so delicious and unusual. Right up my taste bud alley.

    1. Moroccan foods seem to be trending lately, Susan, so I'm betting that I might be able to find Harissa at one of our local cooking store, but it can be easily made too. I should have included the recipe with the kefta ... oops!

  2. I love kofta. I don't believe I would be able to get my hands on any venison but I have had beef versions. One of my favourite dishes.

  3. Yum! That food looks irresistible. Amazing actually!

  4. It sort of looks like meatloaf on a stick to me! I love this idea. Thank you for posting the recipe.



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