My kafta recipe is your ticket to a divinely delicious, Middle Eastern-inspired dinner. This remarkable recipe combines the best flavors of the region in a simple-to-make, easily accessible dish.
Move over hamburgers, Lebanese kafta is on the menu! This recipe provides you with an easy way to turn ground beef, ground lamb, or any ground meat into a culturally inspired culinary creation.
Drawing on the wisdom of Middle Eastern cuisine, we use grated onion, chopped parsley, and an all-star cast of spices to turn this minced meat mixture into a meaty grilled masterpiece. This particular recipe celebrates the flavors of Lebanon.
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Do you know the difference between kofta, kafta and kefta?
Lebanese kafta is ground meat usually seasoned with shredded onion, Middle Eastern spices and fresh herbs. The Moroccan version is known as kefta, and other Middle Eastern countries call them kofta. It’s typically seasoned, ground (mince) meat formed into kabobs, meatballs and small patties. Ground chicken and lamb are also used for making kofta.
- Ground Meat – You can make lamb kafta, beef kafta, or a combination of the two. In fact, you can even choose a different ground meat, like chicken or turkey if desired. Just be sure that the meat you choose isn’t too lean, especially if you are planning on skewering your meat.
- Onion – You can make this recipe with finely diced or minced onion, or you can take a few extra steps to make it even better. If you want the smoothest meat mixture possible, grate the onion with a cheese/box grater or process it with a blender or food processor. Then, squeeze to remove excess fluid and add it to the meat as usual. This will give you a pop of pungent onion flavor and a nice, smooth texture.
- Parsley – Choose fresh, flat-leaf parsley to brighten up the meat mixture with its clean, peppery flavor.
- Lebanese 7 Spice Blend – You might be able to find this spice blend in the supermarket, but I highly recommend making my DIY version. Basically speaking, it is a spicy-sweet, aromatic blend of allspice, cinnamon, fenugreek, nutmeg, ginger, salt, and black pepper.
- Kosher Salt – The absolute best at enhancing flavor without adding too much salty flavor.
- Black Pepper – Adds a potent, peppery, and piney pop of invigorating flavor.
- Olive Oil – Adds a delicate nutty flavor, holds up to high heat, and doesn’t overpower the recipe.
- Tomato – When grilled, adds a complex flavor profile complete with sweet, acidic, and umami elements.
- Mix the Meat. In a large bowl, use your hands to thoroughly mix the beef or lamb together with the chopped onion, fresh parsley, kosher salt, black pepper, and Lebanese 7 spice blend.
- Divide the Meat. Decide what size and shape of kafta you want to make. Divide the meat mixture into 6-10 portions, then shape those portions into either patties or long fingers. Go ahead and skewer the meat if you choose to or simply skip that step.
- Clean the Grill. (Option 1) If you plan on grilling, ensure that the grates of your grill are cleaned and oiled and the grill is set to medium-high heat. Grill the kafta for 10-12 minutes, periodically rotating to get grill marks on all sides.
- Preheat the Skillet. (Option 2) If you are cooking stove top, place a large skillet over medium-high heat along with the oil. Add the meat to the hot skillet and cook it for about 4-5 minutes on each side for a total cooking time of 8-10 minutes.
- Grill the Tomato. Toss the tomato slices on the grill or in the skillet to cook for a few minutes alongside the meat. Add salt and pepper to suit your tastes.
- Serve. Serve right away wrapped up in your choice of flatbread along with your favorite rice and salad dishes.
Want to Make Kebabs?
Choose your meat wisely! Some people have difficulty getting ground meat to stick onto skewers for kebabs, and/or the meat falls off the skewer while it’s on the grill. This can happen when the meat mixture is too dry. When you use fattier ground meat, it tends to stick together better. Also it’s best to form them when the meat is cold and firmer.
In general, kebabs are usually made with chunks of meat that are marinated and skewered to be slow-roasted. The skewering itself is what classifies the dish as kebab. The meat can be chicken, fish, beef, lamb, or pork.
On the other hand, kafta is made from a mixture of ground meat (usually lamb or beef) with minced or grated onion, herbs, and a heavy dose of spices. It is usually formed into patties or long finger-shaped pieces before being grilled and enjoyed.
It is possible, however, for the meat to be shaped for skewering. When this happens, you might even say we have a Kafta Kebab.
Kafta meat is a simple mixture of ground (mince) lamb or beef with grated onion, freshly chopped parsley, and a heavy dose of Lebanese 7 Spice Blend. This combination equates to a savory, sweetly spicy, and pungently peppery blend of meat and spices.
Whether it’s beef kafta or lamb kafta, this versatile recipe is going to rock your world. Here are a few of my favorite suggestions for how to serve it:
– Wrap your lamb or beef kafta up in a warm Pita Bread (Khubz), Armenian Lavash Bread, or other flatbread.
– Dress up your flatbread sandwich with a dollop of Hummus, Muhamara, or Olive Tapenade.
– Enjoy with rice dishes like this Lebanese Rice Pilaf, Baked Basmati Rice, or Spanakorizo.
– Serve beef or lamb kafta alongside salads like Lebanese Fattoush or this Barley Salad.
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Lebanese Kafta (Beef or Lamb)
- 1 lb lean ground beef or ground lamb
- 1 cup yellow onion diced (See Note 1)
- 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley chopped
- 2 tsp Lebanese 7 spice
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil only if cooking in skillet
- 1 large tomato or 2-3 Plum or Romas sliced
- Put the ground beef in a large bowl with the chopped onion, parsley, Lebanese Spice Blend, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly using hands.
- Divide the meat mixture into 6 to 10 patties or long fat fingers depending on the size you prefer. Feel free to use skewers if you like or grill without.
- If grilling, clean and oil the grill. Grill on medium heat for 10-12 minutes. Make sure to keep turning the kafta to get grill marks on all sides (See Note 2). If using a skillet over medium heat, cook and brown on all sides (8-10 minutes).
- If desired, add sliced tomato to the grill and cook along with the meat for a few more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- For a smoother kafta feel free to finely grate the onion and squeeze excess liquid out before adding to the meat or pulse in food processor with parsley before adding to meat.
- If cooking in a skillet, add the oil to the pan and saute in a large skillet on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Turn the kafta over and cook for another 5 minutes.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.