Julia Busuttil Nishimura's lamb kofta with freekeh salad and harissa yoghurt

Lamb kofta skewers with a sturdy freekeh salad.
Lamb kofta skewers with a sturdy freekeh salad. Photo: William Meppem

Lamb kofta is one of my kids' favourite foods, partly, of course, because it's super delicious, but also because it's cooked and served on skewers, which is almost guaranteed to win them over. I often make lamb kofta for dinner and then pack the leftovers for lunch. Harissa yoghurt is a spicy addition which lifts the whole dish and marries well with the lamb kofta. For kids, simply serve with plain yoghurt instead.


1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve

200g cracked freekeh, rinsed and drained

600ml hot chicken or vegetable stock, or water

1 fresh bay leaf

400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

70g currants

1 tbsp white sesame seeds, toasted

50g flaked almonds, toasted

handful coriander leaves

handful mint leaves

juice of ½ a lemon

Lamb kofta

400g lamb mince, not too lean

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

½ tsp ground fennel seeds

½ tsp smoked paprika

4 garlic cloves, finely grated

1 small onion, finely chopped

handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped

handful coriander leaves, finely chopped

sea salt and white pepper

Harissa yoghurt

250g full-fat natural yoghurt

1 heaped tsp harissa paste, or to taste

To serve

1 Lebanese cucumber, roughly chopped

150g cherry tomatoes, halved

lemon wedges, to serve


1. Heat a pot over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When hot, add the freekeh, bay leaf and a good pinch of salt. Toast the grains for 1 minute, stirring often so they don't stick. Cover with hot stock or water and bring to the boil. Cook, uncovered, for 3-4 minutes then reduce heat to low, cover with a lid and cook for a further 10-12 minutes until cooked but still with a little bite. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 10-15 minutes, still covered, then stir well. Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool.

2. Add the chickpeas, currants, almonds, sesame seeds, herbs and lemon juice and toss well to combine. Check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.

3. For the kofta, place all the ingredients together in a large bowl and season well. Mix well using your hands until the mixture comes together. At this point, you can break off a small piece of the mixture and fry in a pan to taste for seasoning. Divide the mixture into 8 portions, and shape them around short flat skewers. Refrigerate until ready to cook.

4. To make the harissa yoghurt, simply swirl the harissa into the yoghurt and set aside.

5. Heat the grill until hot and chargrill the kofta for 8-10 minutes, or until cooked through, turning occasionally.

6. Serve the kofta with the freekeh salad, a dollop of harissa yoghurt, some chopped cucumber and tomatoes and a wedge of lemon.

Tip: Freekeh is great for lunches as it holds up really well the next day, but brown rice, farro or cous cous are great alternatives. You can serve the salad add-ons, like the nuts, on top, on the side or not at all, depending on the school or office setting.

More family recipes that become work (and school) lunches the next day