Temper-soothing Turkey Koftas

In the absence of any vendor of Harrissa paste within 300 miles of my current location, I set out to create my own spice blend for this recipe.

Turkey is a leaner, lighter alternative to lamb here. It is packed with protein as well as a great source of vitamins and minerals – check out the nutrition info at the bottom of this post.

Mental Health Awareness week has just come to an end in the UK. We know that many foods play a role on our mood. The humble turkey is an incredible source of mood-boosting Selenium, Tryptophan (an essential amino acid) and Niacin (Vitamin B3). Amazingly, Tryptophan can be made into Serotonin (an important chemical in the body linked to our mood) and Melatonin (a hormone important for sleep).

The British Dietetic Association has a useful Food Facts information sheet if you’d like to read more about the link between food and mood.

It’s not just a bird for Christmas day, but a weekday too. Including turkey as part of your diet, especially when substituting for red meat, is a wise move. And you never know, it could make you wiser…

Recipe – makes 6 servings



1lb / ~450g turkey mince

½ large red onion

1 large clove garlic

4 sprigs fresh mint

2 tsp ground cumin

1 ½ tsp ground coriander

1 tsp chilli flakes (or red pepper flakes if you are American!)

1 tsp paprika (sweet or smoked – I use smoked)

1 tsp greek seasoning (optional – this is really just a blend of dried garlic, onion, oregano, mint and salt)

Ground pepper (and sea salt if you’re not using greek seasoning)


For this recipe I have used 7% fat turkey (thigh) mince. You can go leaner and opt for breast mince (typically 2% fat content), but may need to add a tbsp. of olive oil when mixing to help bind together. As always with meat and poultry, buy the best quality you can afford – with nothing else added.


Measure out all of the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Add a generous grinding of pepper (and salt if using).

Finely dice or ‘mince’ the red onion and garlic. Add to the bowl.

Add turkey mince. Mix everything together with your hands, making sure the herbs and spices are evenly distributed in the mixture.

Cover and allow the flavours to infuse for at least 2 hours in the fridge.

When ready to cook the koftas, remove from the fridge and in the bowl divide the mixture into six using a knife. Roll out each section into a sausage-like shape using your hands. Punch a kebab stick through the middle. You can then further roll it gently to perfect your shape.

Cook under the grill at a medium-high setting (broil at 480F), turning at least once for approximately 15 minutes. Or, in true Southern Style, cook them on the BBQ (or Bar-B-Q) on top of some mesquite lumpwood charcoal.

Serve with lemon wedges, warmed pita and salad. Oh and leftover tzatziki, of course.


High in Protein, Niacin & Tryptophan

Source of Potassium, Phosphate & Selenium

Low in sugar

Per serving (1 kofta):
  • 130 kcals
  • 3.0g carbohydrate (1.0g of which sugars)
  • 18g protein
  • 6.0g fat (of which 1.5g saturated, 2.3g monounsaturated & 1.3g polyunsaturated; trace trans fat)
  • 1.0g fibre
  • 21.3mg calcium
  • 127mg sodium
  • 324mg potassium
  • 174mg phosphorus
  • 7.1 mcg selenium
  • 10.3mg niacin (B3)
  • 0.68mcg B12
  • 182mg Trypotophan

Analysed using Nutritics®