Persian Harissa Glazed Koftka Kebabs with Turkish Walnut Sauce

Turkish Kebabs

I set out to make a dish that would celebrate in advance my upcoming trip to Istanbul and Kenya. What took me by surprise was that this dish has amazing textures and flavors and will have a regular rotation spot on our summer barbecuing menu.

The true surprise was the walnut sauce – with just a little Harissa paste swirled in right before serving. It was truly astounding. It has a rich and roasted flavor but an almost fluffy texture from the blending. So light and yet so rich!

The ground turkey makes these kebabs light and the warm spices make them so flavorful. And then the Harissa glaze puts them over the top.

This is really an easy dish to put together but is very complex tasting because of the spices and Harissa. A truly remarkable and memorable dish for any summer barbecue.

I will be traveling to Istanbul, Turkey in just a few days – and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be traveling with a foodie and food blogger I have followed and admired for years- Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen. She is such a warm and generous person – who lives and cooks with passion and zest, so I can’t think of a better traveling companion. You know you are well matched when you both are so excited about the food you will be soon eating!

We will be staying in Istanbul for a few days and then traveling on to Nairobi, Kenya. For Kenya, I am mostly excited about the culture and the sites, and to see my daughter Kate, but for Istanbul, I have to say that I am thrilled about the culinary journey!

And since Turkey is known as the Kebab Motherland, I decided to cook some Turkish kebabs this week as a pre-celebration for our trip.

Persian Harissa Glazed Koftka Kebabs with Walnut Dipping Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Serves: 6
  • For the Kebabs:
  • 16 ounces ground turkey
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup minced parsley
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon each allspice, paprika, coriander, chili powder
  • 6 tablespoons Harissa paste
  • For the walnut sauce:
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons plain yoghurt
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon or so of Harissa paste for garnish
  1. Mix all ingredients except Harissa paste with hands. Form into oblong patties - about ½ cup each.
  2. Chill for at least one hour - up to 8 hours.
  3. Grill over medium high heat on skewers for easy turning. Brush with Harissa paste for the last few minutes, and cook for a minute or two on each side.
  4. Blend all sauce ingredients together and serve, with a little Harissa paste swirled in, as a dipping sauce for the kebabs.

Check out some other Middle Eastern Kebabs:

Chicken Kebabs, Tartine and Apron Strings
Mint Minced Meat Kebabs, eCurry

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