Syrian Lamb Koftas in Tahini Sauce (Lahme bi sayniyi)

This Syrian Lamb Koftas in Tahini Sauce is the first recipe we made from Sumac by Anas Atassi and it was a real winner. Straightforward to make, it’s a deliciously different way to use minced lamb and the results are wonderful. The meat mixture – herby with parsley and fragrant with all spice, ground coriander, paprika – is spread out in a baking dish, topped with tomatoes and baked for a short time, then both are covered in a rich, sweet-sour sauce of tahini, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice and the juices from the first cooking, and grilled or baked again.


Lamb Koftas in Tahini Sauce from Sumac cookbook

Book photography

It’s a versatile main and would work well served with rice, your favourite flatbread, spicy potatoes, a crispy salad, or a nice yoghurt raita – any or all of these match well.

Syrian Lamb Koftas in Tahini Sauce (Lahme bi Sayniyi)

My mother often made these koftas during the time when we used to host family dinners for upwards of thirty people. Minced meat – better if it wasn’t too lean – was ordered from the butcher. An enormous dish filled with the meat and topped with tomato slices was brought to the ferran, the community oven. This was the only oven big enough for the pan my mother used. She served her koftas with French fries or spicy potatoes, though they are good with flatbread, too.
Servings 4 servings
Author Anas Atassi


For the koftas

  • 350 g (12 oz) of minced lamb
  • 350 g (12 oz) of minced beef
  • 2 large onions, grated
  • 1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • 1 tbsp of ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp of ground allspice
  • 1 tbsp of paprika
  • 1 tomato (grated, reserve the juice)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For cooking

  • 4 tomatoes thinly sliced
  • 2 mild green chilli peppers sliced into rings

For the sauce

  • 4 tbsp of tahini
  • Juice of 1 organic lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses


  • Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
  • In a large bowl, knead all the kofta ingredients together for 3 minutes (this may also be done in a food processor).
  • Spread the seasoned meat evenly over the bottom of a round baking dish or pan. Press it into a compact layer.
  • Arrange the tomato slices and rings of green chilli pepper over the meat.
  • Bake for 20 minutes in the middle of the oven, until the juices are released and the meat is almost completely cooked. Remove from the oven and carefully pour the meat juices into a separate pan.
  • Mix the tahini, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses with the meat juices. Whisk this mixture for 5 minutes on high heat until the sauce is boiling.
  • Pour the sauce over the koftas. Turn on the grill (broiler) and cook for 10–15 minutes, until the tomatoes and peppers start to char.
  • Serve the dish warm, accompanied by spicy potatoes or bread.


Homecooked Syrian Lamb Koftas with Tahini sauce

Home cooking

The whole book is a pleasure: do read our full review of Sumac: Recipes and stories from Syria to find out more.

Homecooked Syrian Lamb Koftas with Tahini sauce


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This recipe is extracted from Sumac by Anas Atassi and republished with permission from Murdoch Books. Food photography: Jeroen van der Spek. Home cooked recipe photography, Kavita Favelle.

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