I wanted to set myself a challenge to shoot something that is difficult to make look appetizing. It’s fair to say, these lamb koftas didn’t lend themselves as well to being photographed as, say, the cupcakes in the previous post. Generally, I find savoury food more difficult to make visually appealing than sweet. Maybe because sweet things tend to be ‘prettier’, so what makes them delicious is more easily communicated visually. Meat, especially, always presents a challenge, as the line between it looking amazing -making you want to dive right in – and disgusting –making you want to be sick- is a fine one.
I found that photographing the meat straight after it had been cooked meant that it retained some of the glistening grease from the cooking oil, rather then becoming dull if it was left for too long. Also, adding lots of greenery in the form of spinach and herbs helped to increase the visual appeal of the dish. Going for a rustic feel, I assembled the meat in its pitta on a wooden board. Using Camera Raw, I changed the white balance to ‘Cloudy’ (shooting in RAW lets you do this), to give a warmer cast to the image. Then in Photoshop I heightened the contrast using ‘Levels’ and boosted the saturation.
Koftas (or maybe kofte?) are Turkish kebabs made from minced lamb, served in pittas. This recipe is from a recently acquired cookbook gem ‘Kitchen & Co’ by Rosie French and Ellie Grace – the duo behind the blog Salad Club and the restaurant French & Grace in Brixton, London. It’s one of those rare books that is written in a lovely relaxed voice, is visually stunning, and also has easy, delicious recipes that have to be made again and again (just try making these and see for yourself!).
Recipe (slightly adapted) from ‘Kitchen & Co: Colourful home cooking through the seasons’ by Rosie French and Ellie Grace
2 tbsp cous cous
250g minced lamb
6 dates, pitted and chopped
Handful fresh coriander, finely chopped, reserving a few sprigs for serving
Handful fresh mint leaves, finely chopped, reserving a few sprigs for serving
1 free range egg
salt and pepper
sunflower oil, for frying
4 pittas (I used wholemeal)
4 handfuls of spinach, or other salad leaves
4 tbsp natural yoghurt
2 tbsp date syrup (this is my addition and entirely optional, we just had some hanging around)
Put the cous cous in a bowl and just cover with boiling water, then cover the bowl with a plate. Put the lamb, chopped dates, herbs, egg and a pinch of salt and pepper in a large bowl, and mix together. Mould into 10 balls, and flatten slightly with your hands. Heat up a frying pan and pour in a glug of sunflower oil. Fry the koftas for about 3 minutes on each side, until charred on the outside and cooked through. Toast the pittas and open up the long side. Fill with a tbsp natural yoghurt, spinach and the lamb. Drizzle over some date syrup (if using), and scatter over the remaining herbs.