Turkey Koftas with Roasted Red Chili Sauce and Tahini Yogurt

March 6, 2015

And with that it’s Friday! I cannot believe that this week flew past so fast.
Monday was like yesterday; what in the world happened to Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday?
It’s all a blur to me. Where did the time go?
In a word, WORK. Ugh, right? I have been so busy that time has just flown by like a shuttle blasting off into space. It has to be done though — what can you do about it?
In a way, I’m glad it’s the end of the week, I’m tired and boy do I need to slzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
*head hits the desk*
Oh wait, this Sunday is the dreaded Daylight Savings Time, meaning we’ll lose an hour of sleep. Great, just what I needed...
*head bangs against the wall*


Do you know that Daylight Saving Time is also known as “Summer Time”?
Which begs the question: Where’s the summer? Or spring for that matter...
The only thing I can vividly remember about this past week is the snow/rain and the cold.
Oh March, what happened to thee?
Aren’t you supposed to be the first month of spring?
So what about this icy wind whipping at your face every time I step outside the door?
I think you and I need to sit down and have a calm discussion about this whole thing. I need to understand what you on about.
Like for real.

Turkey Koftas with Roasted Red Chili Sauce and Tahini Yogurt

While we wait for the world to defrost, I think we should cook up something delicious.
Because, nothing boosts my mood like delicious food.
Sooooo...Turkey Koftas.
Lemme tell ya, these are kind of a big deal.
Kofta is a Middle Eastern/Indian/Balkan traditional recipe for meatball/meatloaf. In the simplest form, koftas consist of balls of minced or ground meat - usually beef or lamb - mixed with spices and/or onions.
These ones are made with turkey and zucchini and pistachios and scallions and garlic and basically they’re super good.
My mom would say that “They are rich and scrumptious delicacies

Turkey Koftas with Roasted Red Chili Sauce and Tahini Yogurt

What about this Roasted Red Chili Sauce?
Yeah, what about it?
It’s like a sophisticated grown-up version of catsup. It’s deliciously sweet with just the right amount of spiciness and a light smoky flavor that is to-die-for.
It has the wow-factor in abundance and when it’s paired with that Tahini Yogurt it’s pure bliss.

Roasted Red Chili Sauce

These Turkey Koftas with Roasted Red Chili Sauce and Tahini Yogurt have become an absolute favorite.
It’s a slightly unusual combination of flavors — you may even call it exotic.
I love 'em because they pack a serious flavor punch.
Definitely not short on awesomeness.

Turkey Koftas with Roasted Red Chili Sauce and Tahini Yogurt

I’ve made this dish twice for my family/friends and they raved over it.
I’ve had many requests for the recipe — a great sign that it's a hit. So posting it was the right thing to do.
And now I’m happy again — who cares if all-time March record lows are likely to be broken this morning.
I told you good food always equals good mood.
Just so many good and warm vibes right now.

Turkey Koftas with Roasted Red Chili Sauce and Tahini Yogurt

Turkey Koftas with Roasted Red Chili Sauce and Tahini Yogurt                           Print this recipe!

Note. You may find easier to grill the koftas without skewers, I prefer to use the skewers but it’s a matter of personal preference.
You can also bake the koftas in the oven at 400°F (200°C) for about 20 minutes (the last 2 minutes brown the top carefully under a broiler.)

Serves 4

Turkey Koftas

1 lb / 453 gr ground turkey
1 large zucchini, grated
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 green chile, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons chopped pistachios
A handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
Ground black pepper

Roasted Red Chili Sauce

4 red chiles, stemmed
4 medium tomatoes, halved
2 medium onions, halved
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled and smashed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon raw coconut palm sugar (or honey or regular brown sugar)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon red vinegar

Tahini yogurt

1 cup / 250 gr Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon tahini (sesame paste)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
½ teaspoon ground cumin


Turkey Koftas

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well combined.
Scoop 2 heaping tablespoons of turkey mixture and with damp hands form the mixture into 16 ovals about the size of an egg (2 on each skewer)
Place onto a plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes to harden (be careful when lifting the skewers though, as the koftas tend to fall off.)
Heat a grill or a grill pan to medium-high (if you’re using an outdoor grill lightly oil the grill grates).
Grill the koftas about 6 minutes per side (or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 165°F.)

Roasted Red Chili Sauce

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C) and place a rack in the middle.
Place red chiles, halved tomatoes, halved onions, and garlic on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of salt.
Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool for a couple of minutes.
Peel onions and garlic and place them in the bowl of a food processor with roasted red chiles, roasted 
tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and pulse until smooth.

Tahini yogurt

Combine yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, and salt in a small bowl.

Serve turkey koftas with roasted red chili sauce and tahini yogurt.

Nutrition facts

One “naked” kofta yields 78 calories, 4 grams of fat, 1 gram of carbs, and 9 grams of protein.
One “dressed” kofta yields 122 calories, 7 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbs, and 10 grams of protein.


  1. You are right Mike - this cold weather makes it hard to adjust to daylight savings time! We were in the 70's on Wednesday here in Atlanta, then in the 20's this morn!!! GAH!
    But - kofta like this would makeup for the cold! These sound fantastic with the pistachios in them!

    1. Pistachios are such a fantastic add-on to koftas, you have to try it!

  2. This looks so good especially that roasted chili sauce. So yummy!

  3. I love koftas! It is the only think I order at one restaurant and if I ever order anything else I'm always sad it wasn't the kofta.
    Winter+me= at wit's end

  4. these look really fantastic. high five!

  5. What a great idea, thanks for sharing!

  6. Hi Mike, Love everything about these!!! In Arizona the time never changes, I was born in Ca the time change is part of the season change, this might sound weird but I miss it.

    1. Evert time I visit friends in SoCal I also wonder how does it feels to not have the seasons. I mean I love fall so much I could never live without it. I would gladly renounce to winter and summer though...

  7. Love koftas- Mum used to make them calling them Persian meatloaves (like a typical Persian, thinks they invented everything). Never tried it with pistachios though- Great idea (The Persians invented them too).

    1. The Persians invented pistachios? I think you're making stuff up A... ;)

  8. Love koftas! This looks so delicious and healthy too :)

  9. Yes! We need to have a Wolfpack powwow with the seasons. We can invite Winter and Spring and Summer and Fall. We can pretend it's for a big foodie party, but when they all arrive we'll be like *bam* "This meeting is about getting your crap together." Winter: You last too long. Spring: You need to arrive sooner. Summer: I like you if you aren't too hot. You could tell my grass not to grow so fast, though. And Fall: well, you rock because you have college football. You can sit in the corner while the others have an intervention. And of course we'd serve turkey koftas at this party...because these turkey koftas look incredible. Well done, Mike! #WolfpackSeasons

    1. Fall is my favorite season too man, especially here in NE. I mean, can we talk about the foliage for a moment? Best.Thing.Ever.

  10. What kind of red chiles do you use?

    1. I like to use anaheim chiles (aka bullhorns) because they have tons of flavor and they're not too hot

  11. This looks fantastic! I make koftas quite often and the addition of the shredded zucchini is brilliant! Keeps them moist for sure. I'm loving both sauces, especially with the roasting of the veg and cumin addition. Nice dinner for a cold wintery Spring indeed!

  12. The roasted red chili sauce was soooo good!
    I had chicken burgers (with pita breads) with both sauces, delicious!
    Thanks for the recipe!

  13. I do not appreciate this time change at all:(.
    Your kofta plate is so good looking, healthy and delicious. The roasted red chili, yum.

  14. These are so all-around-amazing that I don't even know where to start! We don't eat much middle eastern food at home because I haven't a clue how to make it, so I'm really looking forward to trying this out! :)