Recipe: Tuna kofta with BBQ grapes and sour garlic sauce by Josh Niland

“Kofta are traditionally made with ground meat, onion and spices but I urge you to try them with minced tuna. They are so good! I suggest a few dips and a tabbouleh that I like to serve them with, and they are phenomenal hot or cold rolled up in freshly made flatbread, but these accompaniments are by no means essential – the kofta are very much the stars here. Another tick in the margin is that they freeze exceptionally well, so you can make them up ahead of time.

This is a fantastic spread for a long weekend lunch with friends so feel free to double the quantities. You could also try replacing the tuna with swordfish, marlin, albacore or Spanish mackerel – whatever looks best at the fish market.” – Josh Niland, chef and author of Take One Fish cookbook

Tuna kofta with BBQ grapes and sour garlic sauce

Keyword marlin, Swordfish, yellowfin tuna
Servings 4
Author Josh Niland


  • grapeseed oil for brushing
  • sea salt flakes
  • 150 g 5 ½ oz large red grapes


  • 60 ml 2 fl oz / ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 40 g 1½ oz / ½ cup fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 500 g 1 lb 2 oz yellowfin tuna belly, trimmed
  • 3 teaspoons finely grated garlic
  • 3 teaspoons finely diced French shallot
  • 3 teaspoons freshly ground coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 80 ml 2  fl oz / ⅓ cup grapeseed oil

Sour garlic sauce

  • 125 g 4½ oz natural yoghurt
  • 80 ml 2½ fl oz/ ⅓ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • sea salt flakes
  • ½ bunch chives finely sliced

To serve (optional)

  • eggplant and macadamia puree
  • brown butter hummus
  • lovage tabbouleh
  • flatbreads such as naan bread
  • salad leaves


  1. For the kofta, pour the buttermilk over the breadcrumbs in a large mixing bowl. Leave to soak for 10 minutes until the bread swells and there is no residual liquid left in the bowl. Pass the trimmed tuna through a meat grinder on a coarse setting (or chop into a coarse mince consistency with a sharp knife). Add to the breadcrumb mixture, along with all the remaining ingredients. Using your hands, mix everything together for about 1 minute, to strengthen the mix slightly (be careful not to work it too far or the kofta will end up being too firm). Divide the mix into 12 even pieces and roll into long sausage shapes. Shape the kofta onto stainless steel skewers and store on a plate, covered, in the fridge until needed.
  2. To make the sour garlic sauce, whisk together all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Set aside in the fridge.
  3. Either preheat a chargrill pan over a medium–high heat or a charcoal grill with evenly burnt-down embers. Level out the embers so the heat is even.
  4. Brush the kofta with a little grapeseed oil and season with salt flakes, then grill for 2–2  minutes, turning carefully at 40-second intervals, until cooked through and nicely coloured all over. Transfer the kofta to a large serving platter and set aside to rest.
  5. While the kofta are resting, brush the grapes with a little oil, then grill for 2 minutes or until the skins are charred and blistered and the juices start running from the fruit. Serve with the kofta, sour garlic sauce and your choice of accompaniments.

Josh Niland mincing tuna. Photo by Rob Palmer.

This is an edited extract from Take One Fish by Josh Niland, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $55, available in stores nationally. Photography: © Rob Palmer

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