Turkey Kofta with Tahini Sauce

July/August 2013

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Kofta is the common term for the combination of ground meat, onions and spices shaped into balls and cooked. In this turkey kofta kebab recipe, ground turkey and minced onion are mixed with cumin and allspice to make a delicious grilled dinner. Look for tahini, a sesame paste, with Middle Eastern ingredients or in the natural-foods section of the supermarket.

Turkey Kofta with Tahini Sauce

Makes: 4 servings, 2 kofta & 2 Tbsp. sauce each

Serving Size: 2 kofta & 2 Tbsp. sauce each

Active Time:

Total Time:

Equipment: 4 (10- to 12-inch) flat metal skewers


  • 1 pound 93%-lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 cup coarse fresh or dry whole-wheat breadcrumbs (see Tips)
  • 5 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt plus 1/8 teaspoon, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  1. Preheat grill to medium-high.
  2. Combine turkey, onion, breadcrumbs, 4 tablespoons cilantro, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, allspice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and cayenne in a large bowl; gently knead together. Do not overmix. With damp hands, form the mixture into two ovals on each skewer; use about 1/3 cup for each and place at least 1 inch apart.
  3. Oil the grill rack (see Tips). Grill the kebabs until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 165°F, about 4 minutes per side.
  4. Combine yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, the remaining 1 tablespoon cilantro, 1/2 teaspoon cumin and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Serve the kebabs with the sauce.

Tips & Notes

  • Tips: To make your own fresh breadcrumbs, trim crusts from whole-wheat bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. To make fine breadcrumbs, process until very fine. To make dry breadcrumbs, spread coarse or fine breadcrumbs on a baking sheet and bake at 250°F until dry, about 10 to 15 minutes. One slice of bread makes about 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs or about 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs. For store-bought coarse dry breadcrumbs we like Ian’s brand, labeled “Panko breadcrumbs.” Find them at well-stocked supermarkets.
  • Oiling a grill rack before you grill foods helps ensure that the food won’t stick. Oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.) When grilling delicate foods like tofu and fish, it is helpful to coat the food with cooking spray.


Per serving: 255 calories; 12 g fat (3 g sat, 2 g mono); 66 mg cholesterol; 13 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 26 g protein; 2 g fiber; 474 mg sodium; 390 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Iron (15% daily value).

Carbohydrate Servings: 1

Exchanges: 1/2 starch, 1/2 vegetable, 3 medium-fat meat, 1 fat

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Recipe Categories

Main Ingredient
Poultry, other
Preparation/ Technique

Type of Dish
Main dish, poultry
Middle Eastern
Ease of Preparation
Total Time
30 minutes or less
July/August 2013
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