Kafta, also known as Kofta or Kofte, is a culinary treasure that boasts a rich history and an array of tantalizing flavors. With its roots deeply embedded in Middle Eastern cuisine, this delightful dish symbolizes hospitality, warmth, and togetherness.
Originating from the Levantine region, which includes countries like Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, Kafta is a beloved dish that showcases the rich cultural heritage and culinary traditions of this vibrant part of the world. With a history dating back centuries, Kafta has stood the test of time and continues to be cherished by generations, both within the Middle East and beyond.
Kafta's essence is rooted in the excellence of its ingredients. While traditionally made with ground lamb or beef, numerous modern versions embrace ground chicken or turkey as a healthier alternative, providing a lighter twist. Freshly ground meat is combined with finely chopped onions, garlic, and a medley of herbs such as parsley and mint, infusing the mixture with a fragrant and vibrant essence. But what truly sets Kafta apart is its careful seasoning. A harmonious blend of spices like cumin, paprika, coriander, and cinnamon creates a symphony of flavors that elevates the dish to new heights. The spices enhance the meat's taste and reflect the historical influence and trade routes that have shaped Middle Eastern cuisine over the centuries.
In this post, I will share a healthy and delicious lean beef kafta recipe and a step-by-step guide on how to beef Kafta kabobs.
Lean Beef Kafta Kabob Recipe
1. In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, chopped onion, minced garlic, chopped parsley, mint, cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Thoroughly blend the ingredients, ensuring even distribution of the spices within the meat mixture.
2. After achieving a well-combined mixture, place a cover on the bowl and refrigerate it for a minimum of 30 minutes. This step allows the flavors to meld together and makes the meat easier to handle when shaping the Kafta.
3. Begin by preheating your grill to medium-high heat, or alternatively, preheat your oven.
4. While the grill is heating up, take small portions of the meat mixture and shape them into long, thin cylinders around metal skewers or mold them into small oval-shaped patties. The thickness of the Kafta is a matter of personal preference, but aim for approximately 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thickness to ensure even cooking.
5. Once your Kafta skewers or patties are ready, lightly brush them with olive oil to prevent sticking and add a hint of extra flavor. Place the Kafta on the preheated grill or in the, ensuring there is enough space between them for even cooking.
6. Grill & Broil: Grill or broil the Kafta for approximately 4-6 minutes per side or until the meat is thoroughly cooked and develops a slight char on the outside. Take care when flipping the Kafta to prevent them from breaking apart.
Baking: Bake the patties at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes
7. Once cooked to your desired doneness, remove the Kafta from the grill or oven and let them rest for a few minutes. By doing so, the juices within the meat are able to redistribute, resulting in a moist and flavorsome outcome.
8. Serve the Kafta hot with your choice of accompaniments. They can be enjoyed as a main course with rice or salad, wrapped in warm pita bread with tahini sauce and fresh vegetables, or as part of a mezze platter alongside hummus, tabbouleh, and other Middle Eastern delicacies.
Tips & Notes
Resting Time: Give the meat mixture a minimum of 30 minutes to rest in the refrigerator before shaping it. This process aids in blending the flavors harmoniously and enhances the manageability of the mixture.
Skewering or Shaping: If you opt to use metal skewers, ensure that they are thoroughly soaked in water for approximately 30 minutes before skewering the meat. This prevents them from burning during grilling. Wet your hands with water or olive oil to prevent sticking when shaping the beef Kafta into patties or cylinders.
Cooking Time: Keep an eye on the beef Kafta while grilling or broiling, as cooking times may vary depending on the thickness and heat intensity. Turn them gently to avoid breakage, and cook until they are cooked through with a slightly charred exterior.
% Daily Value*
Total Fat "7.1g"
Saturated Fat "1g"
Total Carbohydrate "34.2g"
Dietary Fiber "4.2g"
Total Sugars "20.1g"
Vitamin D "0mcg"
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Finely Chopped Ingredients: Invest the necessary time to finely chop the onions, garlic, parsley, and mint. This ensures an even distribution of flavors throughout the Kafta mixture.
Use Food Processor: To make mixing easy, you can run all the ingredients in the food processor on pulse.
What Is Kafta
Kafta, also known as Kofta, is a versatile dish made from seasoned ground meat, typically beef or lamb. Its origins can be traced back centuries, with variations found across different Middle Eastern countries, each with its own unique twist. The beauty of Kafta lies in its simplicity; it's a dish that celebrates the natural flavors of quality meat combined with aromatic spices and fresh herbs.
Kafta can be served as a main course, accompanied by fragrant rice, grilled vegetables, or salad. It is also commonly enjoyed as street food, where the grilled Kafta is wrapped in warm pita bread, along with fresh vegetables, pickles, and a drizzle of flavorful sauces such as tahini or garlic sauce.
Skewered Kafta or kafta kabob is one of the classic and iconic forms of this dish. The meat mixture is molded into long, thin cylinders around metal skewers. This shape allows for even cooking and provides a beautiful presentation. The elongated shape also makes it easy to handle and turn the Kafta while grilling. Skewered Kafta is commonly presented as a satisfying main course and can be relished either on its own or accompanied by flavorful additions like rice, grilled vegetables, or salads.
Kafta can also be shaped into small oval-shaped patties or meatballs. This Middle Eastern meatball adapts well to a variety of cooking methods, including grilling, pan-frying, or baking. Patties offer more surface area for browning, creating a flavorful crust while maintaining a juicy interior. They are versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes like sandwiches and wraps or as a component of mezze platters.
What Ingredients You Will Need To Make Kafta
In this recipe, lean ground beef was used. However, you can choose any ground meat. Choose high-quality ground lamb, beef, or a combination of both. Look for meat with a good fat-to-lean ratio, as this will contribute to a moist and flavorful Kafta.
Lamb and beef are the most commonly used meats, but you can also use a combination of both for a unique flavor. The meat provides richness and a hearty texture to the dish.
Onion adds a savory and sweet note to the Kafta mixture. It contributes moisture and aids in binding the ingredients together. Finely chopped onion distributes its flavor evenly throughout the meat.
Garlic adds a distinct and aromatic flavor to the beef Kafta. It is minced and mixed with the meat mixture. Garlic enhances the overall taste profile and complements the other spices and herbs.
Fresh parsley brings a vibrant, herbaceous flavor to the beef Kafta. It is finely chopped and introduced into the meat mixture. Parsley adds a fresh and bright element to the dish, balancing the meat's richness.
Fresh mint leaves contribute a refreshing and cooling flavor to the beef Kafta. Like parsley, mint is finely chopped and combined with the meat mixture. Mint offers a delightful contrast and harmonizes with the other seasonings, enhancing the overall flavor.
Various spices elevate the flavor profile of beef Kafta. Here are the Middle Eastern spices we recommend and the most commonly used spices blend to use in beef Kafta:
Ground Cumin: Cumin is a warm, earthy spice that adds depth and complexity to the beef Kafta. With its subtly smoky and nutty flavor, it elevates the dish's overall taste experience.
Ground Coriander: Coriander is a versatile spice with citrusy and floral undertones. It harmonizes beautifully with the other spices, infusing the beef Kafta with a delightful aroma.
Ground Paprika: Paprika is a spice created by drying and grinding red bell peppers. It contributes a mild sweetness, vibrant color, and a hint of smokiness to the beef Kafta.
Ground Cinnamon: Cinnamon, a warm and aromatic spice, imparts a delicate sweetness and complexity to the beef Kafta. It adds a delightful dimension to the overall flavor profile.
Salt and Pepper
Salt and pepper play a vital role as essential seasonings, enhancing the flavors of the other ingredients. They should be added according to taste preferences.
Olive oil contributes to the moisture and tenderness of the beef Kafta. The addition of oil helps prevent the meat mixture from becoming dry during the grilling process. It ensures that the Kafta remains juicy and succulent. By brushing the beef Kafta before grilling and baking, it can help prevent sticking, add a hint of richness, and helps achieve a beautiful char on the exterior.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can I use a different meat if I don't eat lamb or beef?
Yes, you can customize Kafta to your preferences. Ground chicken, turkey, or even plant-based alternatives like vegetarian ground "meat" can be utilized as viable substitutes.
How do I prevent Kafta from falling apart on the grill?
Proper shaping and handling are important to prevent Kafta from falling apart. Ensure that the meat mixture is thoroughly blended and compacted. If using skewers, mold the meat tightly around them. Wetting your hands with water or oil while shaping can also help prevent sticking and maintain the shape.
Can Kafta be cooked in the oven instead of grilling?
Yes, Kafta can be cooked in the oven using the broiler or baking function!
Can you pan fry kafta?
Yes, you can pan fry kafta! Pan fry the Kafta over medium-high heat for approximately 4-6 minutes per side or until it is fully cooked and achieves a desirable golden brown color.
How to store leftover Kafta
If you have leftovers on the skewers, remove the Kafta from the skewers and transfer them to a separate container. This simplifies the storage process and safeguards the skewers from any potential damage.
Place the leftover Kafta in an airtight container or wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and then place it in the refrigerator. It is recommended to consume the remaining Kafta within 3-4 days. Although it might still be safe to eat beyond this period, the quality and flavor may diminish.