I love the flavours of the Middle East.  Spicy and aromatic, these little lamb balls were the perfect vehicle for a clean and fresh herb tabouli and a zesty carrot dip. Quick, simple and extremely budget friendly this dish would be an absolute sensation for a crowd.

Prep time:  30 Minutes            Cooking time:   20  Minutes                 $   Low Budget

Serves 6-8

For The Lamb Koftas:

1kg of lamb mince

3 cloves of garlic, finely minced

2 tbs of chopped fresh parsley

1 tbs of ground cumin

1 tbs of ground coriander

1/2 tsp of cardamom

1 tsp of paprika

2 tsp of sumac*

1 tsp of chilli flakes

1 egg, whisked

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

8 small pita breads (more if you think people would like 2)

For the Carrot Dip:

5 medium carrots, peeled and grated (I grate mine in the food processor, takes about 1 minute)

1 tsp of cumin seeds

1 tbs of olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

1 cup of greek yoghurt

Sea salt and cracked pepper

For the Tabouli:

1 cup of Quinoa

11/2 cups of water

pinch of salt

1 cup of parsley leaves, roughly chopped

1 cup of mint leaves, roughly chopped

1 cup of coriander leaves, roughly chopped

2 tomatoes, deseeded and finely chopped

2 green onions, finely sliced

1/2 a small red onion, finely diced

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and pepper

Heat a large frypan and dry fry the cumin seeds for 30 seconds or until aromatic.  Add the oil and carrots and stir the carrots so that the mixture cooks evenly and until the carrot changes colour and softens.  Add the lemon juice and season well with salt and pepper.  Make sure the lemon juice evaporates before removing from the heat and setting aside to cool.  Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the yoghurt and transfer to a serving bowl.  There will be plenty left over, if you don’t eat it all and it is great for school lunches with little pieces of pita.

Heat the oven to 180°C.  Place the lamb, garlic, parsley, spices and egg in a large bowl and use your hands to mix together really well.  Wet your hands slightly and roll into small balls, place on a baking tray and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Heat a large frypan and add a little oil.  Pop the koftas into the pan and flatten slightly with a spatula.  Cook on both sides until golden and then transfer to a lined baking tray and place in the oven for 10 minutes or until cooked through.

Place the quinoa and water in a small saucepan with a pinch of salt.  Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally and once boiling, reduce to a simmer and put a lid on.  Cook the quinoa for 12 minutes then turn off the heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.

Place the chopped herbs, onions and tomato in a bowl and add the quinoa.  Stir well to combine.  Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.  pour the dressing over the tabouli and toss well so that the dressing coats every little grain.

Dampen each flatbread with a sprinkle of water and wrap the pile in loose but sealed foil.  Place in the oven for 5 minutes or until warmed through and nice and chewy.

To serve, place everything in the middle of the table and let everyone help themselves!  You could always add hummus, plain yoghurt, olives or any other mezze style dip if you so desire.

*  Sumac is a middle eastern berry spice that is finely ground and quite zesty.  You can find it in the spice dept. of the supermarket or gourmet food shops.