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Lamb Meatballs with Tahini | Kefte

These lamb meatballs with tahini, a Palestinian specialty also known as kefte, are spiced with cinnamon and allspice, cooked on roasted potatoes so the juices infuse the potatoes with flavor, and finished with a tangy, garlicky, tahini sauce.

Kefte. It literally translates to meatballs, and there are no shortage of different types of meatballs in the Middle East. But these Palestinian lamb meatballs drizzled with garlicky tahini sauce are definitely contenders for best kefte. The cinnamon- and allspice-scented lamb meatballs are roasted atop potatoes, so their aromatic juices dribble onto the potatoes during roasting and infuse them with flavor, and then the whole shebang–potatoes AND meatballs—is drizzled with tahini sauce and sprinkled with buttery toasted pine nuts. Did we mention that it can be prepped almost entirely ahead of time and cooked in a single baking dish? Yes, Dorothy, you can both impress AND take time to mingle with your dinner guests.–Angie Zoobkoff

*NOTE How To Make Certain You Have Sufficient Tahini Sauce

We’re a little smitten with this recipe’s tangy tahini sauce. It pairs beautifully with the rich lamb meatballs. But it also pairs beautifully with ample other things. We could list them all. Or we could just let you use your imagination. To make sure that you have plenty of sauce for drizzling, we recommend doubling the tahini sauce recipe.

Lamb Meatballs with Tahini | Kefte

  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 1 H, 40 M
  • Serves 4 to 6


  • For the potatoes
  • 1 1/2 pounds potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold, peeled if desired
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or mild vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • For the lamb meatballs | kefte
  • 1 3/4 pounds ground lamb
  • 1 onion (about 7 oz), finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • For the tahini sauce
  • 3 teaspoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more to taste
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons water
  • For the pine nut topping
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • Whole or chopped parsley leaves (optional)


  • Make the potatoes
  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  • 2. Slice the potatoes crosswise into circles 1/4 inch (1 cm) thick. Toss them in a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking dish or on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle the potatoes with the olive or vegetable oil, sprinkle with salt, and toss to evenly coat. Spread the potatoes in an even layer in the baking dish (it’s ok if they overlap). Roast until almost but not completely tender, about 40 minutes.
  • Make the lamb meatballs | kefte
  • 3. While the potatoes are cooking, in a food processor, combine the lamb, onion, parsley, garlic, pepper flakes, cinnamon, allspice, salt, and pepper and blitz until evenly mixed, 2 to 3 minutes. (Grinding the meat again in this way ensures a better texture.) Using your hands, shape the meatballs into 2-inch (5-cm) ovals that are tapered at the edges.
  • 4. Pour the extra-virgin olive oil in a bowl and, using your fingertips, lightly coat each lamb meatball with oil to smooth it. (At this stage, you can place the lamb meatballs in a baking dish, cover, and stash them in the fridge for up to several hours.)
  • 5. When the potatoes are tender, place the lamb meatballs in a single layer on top and roast until the meatballs are cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. You can test this by cutting into one or waiting for a thermometer to register 160°F (70°C).
  • Make the tahini sauce*
  • 6. See *NOTE above before making this tahini sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, and salt. Slowly stir in 2 tablespoons of water, a little at a time, until the sauce reaches the consistency of a very runny honey. (Different brands of tahini varies drastically in consistency. You may need to add up to 2 more tablespoons water to achieve the desired consistency.)
  • Make the pine nut topping
  • 7. In a small skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Stir in the pine nuts and cook, stirring or shaking the skillet frequently, until golden, 3 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Serve the lamb meatballs
  • 8. Once the lamb meatballs and potatoes are cooked, drain off any excess fat that was released during roasting and spoon the tahini sauce over the top. Scatter with the pine nuts and chopped parsley. Serve immediately straight from the baking dish or transfer to a platter.

Lamb Meatballs with Tahini | Kefte Recipe © 2019 Yasmin Khan. Photo © 2019 Matt Russell. All rights reserved. All recipes and photos used with permission of the publisher.

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