20 February 2021: Chicken (or Turkey) Koftas with Lime Couscous

Like most everyone, our Valentine’s Day celebration was quite a bit different this year. And so, embracing the change, we moved away from the usual big meal and headed toward something entirely out of our usual taste profiles. Depending on the culture, a koftas is a meatball or meatloaf dish, mainly found in Middle Eastern or the Indian subcontinent. Read more about that here.

The dish we prepared for each other for Valentine’s Day 2021 comes from a New York Times recipe shared by Nik Sharma, a Los Angeles based blogger, food writer and cookbook author. You can find out more on Nik’s website, A Brown Table. We substituted ground turkey for the chicken, but I would imagine either will be delicious.

So, here’s our Ode to a Different Valentine’s Day: Chicken Koftas with Lime Couscous. It was delicious – and even better the second day.

Chicken Koftas with Lime Couscous by Nik Sharma

Ingredients for Couscous

  • 1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, plus 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  •  Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup couscous
  • ¼ loosely packed cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • ¼ cup dried sweet-tart cherries or cranberries (We used dried cranberries – already in the pantry)
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Ingredients for Koftas

  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey (we used turkey this time)
  • 2 shallots, peeled and minced
  • 1 large egg, lightly whisked
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 serrano chile, trimmed and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
  •  Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •  Olive oil
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving

Method:

  1. Make the couscous: In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring the stock, lime juice, olive oil, red-pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon salt to a rolling boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the couscous. Cover with a lid and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. As the couscous sits, prepare the koftas: Place the ground chicken, shallots, egg, parsley, serrano, garlic, ginger, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse paste. (One suggestion from a cook on the NYT website was to forego processing. We thought that the extra pulsing made the Koftas well-blended and was worth the extra time/step)
  3. Frying the koftas: Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12-inch) cast-iron skillet or nonstick pan over medium-low. Grease your hands with a little oil and divide and shape the ground chicken mixture into 12 balls. Fry them in the hot oil, in batches if necessary, until golden brown on all sides and the internal temperature reads 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the koftas to a tray or plate lined with paper towels. (Another commenter on NYT suggests baking the Koftas – 15 mins. at 350 F. Whatever the method, make sure that the meat is cooked to 165 F)
  4. Finishing and plating: Uncover the couscous, fluff the mixture with a fork and break up any lumps. Transfer the couscous to a large mixing bowl. Fold in the lime zest, parsley, cherries and pine nuts, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Fold in the koftas and serve immediately with the lime wedges.

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