All over the Middle East and even in India, a kofta is a little meatball or patty. There are a few vegetarian versions, too. These kouftikes de prasa are made of leeks bound together with bread crumbs and eggs. The Sephardic side of my family looks forward to them for our Rosh Hashanah feast.
I up the ante by serving them in pita sandwiches with spicy pickled cabbage flavored with preserved lemon (available in Middle Eastern markets and gourmet groceries) and harissa. This transforms them from an appetizer into an entree with street-food flair.
The cabbage needs to sit for a couple of hours to soften. You can even toss it together the day before and let it marinate in the refrigerator overnight. In a pinch, just use plain shredded lettuce instead, and serve hot sauce on the side.
- 4 sancwiches ServingsServings
For the spciy cabbage
- 2 cups finely shredded red cabbage
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- Half a preserved lemon, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons harissa or Thai-style chile sauce (such as sriracha)
For the Leek Patties
- 2 large leeks, white and light green parts only (about 12 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 teaspons kosher salt
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup Homemade bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or cayenne
- Pinch of ground cinnamon
- Vegetable oil, for shallow frying
- Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
To finish the sandwiches
- 4 pita breads, lightly toasted or grilled
- 20 thin half-moons of cucumber
- 1/2 cup thick Greek yogurt or labneh
- ground sumac
- handful fresh mint or cilantro leaves, torn
1 For the spicy cabbage: Thoroughly toss together the cabbage, salt, vinegar, preserved lemon, and harissa. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours. Allow to return to room temperature before serving.
2 For the leek patties: Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and then into 1/4-inch-wide half-moons. Wash in 3 changes of water and dry thoroughly (a salad spinner works well for this).
3 Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and saute until tender and starting to shrivel, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl. ( you can use the same skillet to fry the leek patties in a moment.)
4 Thoroughly mix the leeks, salt, eggs, bred crumbs, cumin, Aleppo pepper an cinnamon.
5 Heat about 1/8 inch vegetable oil in the skillet over medium -high heat. When the oil is shimmering, r in 1/4 cup leek batter with a measuring cup and use the back of the cup to smooth the patty in to a circle about 4 inches in diameter. Repeat with remaining batter, making 8 patties total (fry them in two batches if necessary, adding a bit more oil as needed. ) Fry each patty until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels and season with flaky sea salt.
6 To finish the sandwiches: Place 2 leek patties on a pita. Top with a handful of the spicy cabbage, 5 cucumbers slices, and 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt. Sprinkle a little sumac on the yogurt and scatter a few mint leaves over the whole sandwich. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Fold the pita over to eat as a sandwich. Serve immediately.