This recipe is from the May 2015 issue of BBC Good Food. I was intrigued by the use of ras el hanout – a North African spice blend used in a similar way that garam masala is used in Indian cooking. I’ve been experimenting more with Indian and Middle Eastern spices, and the idea of the North African spice blend greatly appealed to me. After a trip to my local Waitrose (note that Sainsbury’s also carries it – perhaps all of the big supermarkets in the UK do, I don’t know), I cooked this within a day of reading the recipe in the magazine. I made it in a rush and the whole dish took less than 30 minutes – admittedly with a lot of multitasking, and not refrigerating the Kofta for the recommended amount of time before cooking. None of that seemed to have mattered though. The consistency of the kofta were perfect – they held their shape nicely, and tasted fried, even though they were baked with just a little bit of olive oil drizzled on them and the pan. I loved this dish, as did my husband, who is still wary of these new and ‘unusual’ (to us) spice blends. This is definitely a winner of a dinner and I look forward to the leftovers for lunch this week!
Want to make your own ras el hanout? There are lots of recipes out there. Here’s one from BBC Good Food.
- 2 x 400g cans cooked green lentils, drained
- 1 medium egg
- 100g/4oz oats
- 1 tbsp ras el hanout
- small bunch parsley, chopped
- zest 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp olive oil or rapeseed oil
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
- pinch of sugar
- 300g/11oz orzo pasta
- 100g/4oz feta, crumbled
- Put the lentils, egg, oats, ras el hanout, half the parsley and the lemon zest in a food processor. Add some seasoning and blitz until finely chopped. Removed the blade, shape the mixture into balls the size of cherry tomatoes, then chill for 20 minutes. Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
- Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a pan. Add the garlic, sizzle for 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes, sugar and some seasoning. Bubble the sauce for 20 minutes until rich and thickened. While the sauce cooks, line a baking tray with foil and arrange the kofta on top. Drizzle over the remaining oil, and bake for 20 minutes, rolling around in the tray halfway through cooking. Once cooked, add the kofta to the tomato sauce, gently coating each one.
- Cook the orzo following pack directions, then drain and divide between 4 plates. Top with the sauce and kofta, crumble over the feta and sprinkle with the remaining parsley.
- I didn't mix the kofta into the sauce. I spooned the sauce over the kofta once they were placed on top of the orzo, ensuring they wouldn't lose their shape. I also only had 5 minutes to refrigerate the kofta before cooking, and they still held their shape perfectly and had a great consistency. I didn't have fresh parsley, so I substituted a good sprinkle of dried.