Smashed carrots and chicken koftas: Yotam Ottolenghi's recipes for sharing | Food (2024)

Yotam Ottolenghi recipes

Two dips – a yoghurty Persian number and nutty, pesto-smothered mashed carrots – accompany coffee- and chilli-rubbed chicken koftas in a tactile Middle-Eastern feast

Yotam Ottolenghi


Sat 5 Sep 2020 04.30 EDT

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If a table could tell a story, there’d be scattered cutlery and plates scraped clean, scrunched-up napkins, glasses half full and a tablecloth stained with equal parts turmeric and impatient hunger. If a table could tell a story, it would echo a joyful cacophony of voices, murmurs of conversation and the emotional highs and lows of its last meal. If a table could tell a story, it would tell you how to create a feast – a spread of dishes waiting to be dug into, to be passed around and pulled apart, with multiple forks and one story, entitled Food to Share.

Coffee- and chilli-rubbed chicken koftas with grilled onions (pictured above)

The coffee adds a smoky, earthy quality to these koftas, but without dominating proceedings. Swap the cascabel chilli for another mild dried chilli, such as guajillo, if you prefer. And it’s worth making double or triple the coffee rub, because it works wonders on all sorts of grilled meats and vegetables.

Prep 25 min
Cook 55 min
Serves 4

500g boned and skinned chicken thighs, cut into roughly 3-4cm pieces
½ onion, peeled and coarsely grated (65g net weight)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 large tomato (120g), coarsely grated and skin discarded (90g)
5-6 tbsp (20g) flat-leaf parsley, half roughly chopped, the rest picked with some stem attached
1 large lemon – half finely zested, to get 2 tsp, and juiced, to get, 1 tbsp, the other half cut into two wedges
75ml olive oil
Salt and black pepper
2 red onions
, peeled and each cut into 5 rounds
1½ tbsp picked mint leaves

For the rub
2 tbsp finely ground coffee
1 tbsp ground cascabel chilli (about 2 whole chillies, blitzed in a spice grinder)
1½ tsp soft light brown sugar
1 tsp smoked paprika
1½ tsp ground cumin

Put the chicken thighs in a food processor and pulse until minced. Tip out into a large bowl and add the grated onion, garlic, tomato, chopped parsley, lemon zest, a tablespoon of oil, three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and knead (wear gloves, if you prefer) for about three minutes, until well combined and sticky. Divide the mix into 12, then form into compact, torpedo-shaped koftas of about 55g each.

Make the rub by combining all ingredients with a half-teaspoon of salt. Set aside a third of the rub mixture and spread the rest over a baking tray. Roll each kofta in the coffee rub until well coated all over, and set aside (or refrigerate if you’re getting ahead).

Heat the oven to 240C (220C fan)/475F/gas 9. Gently toss the red onion rounds in a tablespoon of oil, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, keeping them as intact as possible. Put a well-greased griddle pan on a high heat and ventilate the kitchen. Once the griddle is hot, grill the onion slices for four minutes on each side, until well charred and softened, then set aside to cool.

Drizzle the kofta with a tablespoon of oil, then grill them in two batches for about 90 seconds a batch, until lightly charred on the outsides (take care they don’t catch and burn). Transfer the grilled kofta to a medium oven tray lined with greaseproof paper and roast in the hot oven for six minutes. Combine the reserved coffee rub with two tablespoons of oil and drizzle all over the kofta. Return to the oven for another three minutes, until cooked through and nicely browned.

In a bowl, toss the grilled onion with the mint, picked parsley, lemon juice and a pinch each of salt and pepper (don’t worry if the rounds separate at this stage).

Arrange the koftas and their cooking juices on a platter and pile the grilled onion salad to one side. Squeeze the lemon wedges over the koftas and serve warm.

Spinach borani with celery and walnuts

Borani is a Persian, yoghurt-based dip that usually includes cooked vegetables such as spinach or beetroot, and is typically eaten at room temperature. Serve it alongside various other dips, such as the smashed carrots with coriander-pistachio pesto below, and some bread.

Prep 15 min
Cook 35 min
Serve 6

400g celery (ie, 5-6 sticks), trimmed and very thinly sliced (350g net weight)
3½ tbsp fresh lime juice
Salt and black pepper
90ml olive oil
700g baby spinach
60g walnuts
, toasted and roughly chopped
50g coriander (ie 1 big bunch), roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
350g Greek-style yoghurt
1 tsp dried mint

In a medium bowl, toss the celery with two and a half tablespoons of the lime juice, a third of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and set aside to soften.

Put two tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan on a medium-high heat and, once hot, add the spinach in about five batches, stirring to wilt each one down. Season with a half-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and cook for about three minutes, until all the leaves have softened and wilted. Transfer to a sieve set over a bowl, press down to squeeze out as much excess liquid as you can, and leave to drain for about 20 minutes, until the spinach cools to room temperature.

In a large bowl, combine the walnuts, coriander, garlic, yoghurt, two tablespoons of oil, the remaining tablespoon of lime juice, three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Stir in the cooled spinach and half the celery mixture, and mix until both are well coated. Transfer the mix to a shallow bowl, spreading it out slightly, then top the remaining celery.

Put the last two tablespoons of oil in a small frying pan on a medium-high heat and, once hot, add the dried mint and immediately remove from the heat. Pour this all over the borani mix and serve at once.

Smashed carrots with coriander-pistachio pesto and pickled onions

This simple, colourful dish is a good way to dress up the humble carrot. Serve as part of a meze spread or as a side dish.

Prep 25 min
Cook 1 hr 15 min
Serves 4

½ small red onion, finely chopped (50g net weight)
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
Salt and black pepper

1.2kg carrots, peeled and cut widthways into 3-4cm chunks
135ml olive oil
¾ tsp ground turmeric
7 garlic cloves
, peeled, 6 left whole and 1 crushed
2 tsp coriander seeds, roughly crushed in a mortar
2 tsp cumin seeds, roughly crushed in a mortar
½ tsp chilli flakes
1½ tbsp maple or agave syrup

5-6 tbsp (20g) coriander, roughly chopped
2 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced (30g)
40g pistachios, very lightly toasted and roughly chopped
60g Greek-style yoghurt

Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. In a small bowl, mix the onion, half the lime juice and a pinch of salt, and set aside to pickle.

Put the carrots, four tablespoons of oil, the turmeric, 200ml water, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper in a medium roasting tray and toss to coat thoroughly. Roast for 25 minutes, then add the six whole peeled garlic cloves and the spices to the tray, and return to the oven for 20 minutes, until the carrots are cooked through. Turn up the oven temperature to 230C (210C fan)/450F/gas 8, drizzle the syrup all over the carrots aand return to the oven for 10 minutes, until they’ve taken on some colour. Leave to cool for about five minutes, then crush into a coarse mash (you don’t want it to be smooth) with a fork or potato masher.

While the carrots are roasting, make the pesto. Put the coriander, spring onions, pistachios, three tablespoons of oil, the crushed garlic clove, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper in the bowl of a food processor and blitz to a coarse paste. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir through the last two tablespoons of oil, to loosen.

For the lime yoghurt, in a small bowl mix the yoghurt with the remaining tablespoon of lime juice.

To serve, spread out the carrot mash out on a large plate, dot with spoonfuls of the yoghurt and then about two-thirds of the pesto. Top with the pickled onion and serve warm or at room temperature with a bowl of the remaining pesto alongside.


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Smashed carrots and chicken koftas: Yotam Ottolenghi's recipes for sharing | Food (2024)


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