Try these zesty lamb kofta with jewelled rice, then check out our kofta curry, beef kofta, chicken kofta, lamb kofta with raita and more lamb mince recipes.

North Indian cuisine has a heavy Persian influence, in particular the tradition of combining ground meat with heady spices and onions, and studding rice dishes with fragrant aromatics, fruit, nuts and herbs. These koftas are great charred on a BBQ, and any left-over rice makes for excellent Persian-Indian burritos!


  • 2 red onions
  • 750g lamb mince
  • 5 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 3 lemons, zested and juiced
  • a small bunch coriander, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • finely grated to make 2 tbsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • ground to make 1½ tsp black peppercorns


  • 400g basmati rice, rinsed
  • 4 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
  • 2 red onions, finely sliced into rings
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 10 cardamom pods, gently crushed
  • 2½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • finely grated to make 3 tsp ginger
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 carrots, cut into thin strips
  • 2½ tsp garam masala
  • 10 threads saffron, mixed with 1 tbsp of warm milk
  • chopped to make 2 tbsp coriander, plus extra to serve
  • 100g pomegranate seeds
  • 50g pistachios, toasted and crushed, plus extra to serve


  • 300ml natural yogurt
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 tbsp sumac


  • STEP 1

    Put the red onions in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Tip in the lamb mince, cumin seeds, chilli flakes, lemon zest and juice, coriander, garlic, ginger, sugar, black pepper and 2 tsp of fine sea salt, and pulse again until everything is evenly combined. Tip the mixture into a bowl, cover and chill for 2 hours. Meanwhile, for the jewelled rice, tip the rice into a large bowl, cover with lukewarm water and leave to soak for 2 hours. Drain well.

  • STEP 2

    Heat the ghee in a large frying pan and gently fry the red onion with the cider vinegar for 15-20 minutes or until the onions are caramelised and ruby coloured. Remove to a bowl and set aside, leaving as much ghee in the pan as possible.

  • STEP 3

    Turn up the heat to high (if the onions have soaked up most of the ghee, you may need to add another tablespoon) and tip in the cardamom pods and cumin seeds. Sizzle for 45 seconds, then reduce the heat to medium, add the white onions and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the onions are translucent.

  • STEP 4

    Add the ginger, garlic and carrots, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the garam masala and 2 tsp of fine sea salt, and cook for another minute, then add the rice. Mix for 1 minute to coat the rice in the flavoured ghee, then pour in 800ml of just-boiled water. Bring to the boil and cook for 3-4 minutes, then reduce the heat to the lowest it will go, cover and cook, undisturbed, for 15 minutes.

  • STEP 5

    Remove the lid and gently fluff the rice with a fork. Add the saffron mixture, coriander, pomegranate seeds and toasted pistachios, tossing them gently through the rice mixture. Cover and set aside until ready to serve.

  • STEP 6

    Heat the grill to its highest setting. Mould 3 tablespoons of the cold lamb mixture into a diamond shape around a metal skewer using your hands, then repeat with the rest of the mixture – you should be able to make 14-16 generous koftas in total. Grill for 8-10 minutes, turning halfway through, until charred at the edges.

  • STEP 7

    Whisk together all of the ingredients for the yogurt sauce in a jug. Spoon the jewelled rice into a serving dish, top with the slow-cooked red onion and arrange the koftas on top. Scatter with more toasted pistachios and coriander, then drizzle with the tangy yogurt sauce.

Check out more of our Persian recipes and Indian recipes

Vegetarian Rice and Beans Recipe with (Loobia Polow)

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