It's Barbeque Season!!!
For most of us in the United States, BBQs mean burgers, hot dogs, and chicken wings.
For Middle Easterners, we mean kofta, kabobs, and grilled corn!
This incredibly easy kofta recipe will have you enjoying fragrant, tasty koftas in no time at all. They're a great addition to any BBQ, dinner party, or as a weeknight entree even your kids will eat.
The beautiful thing about kofta is that it uses simple ingredients, is super straightforward to put together, can be made ahead of time, has endless variations, and yields moist, juicy, tender koftas.
It starts with selecting the right meat: never use lean meat for kofta! This dish needs high fat content to avoid drying it out. I like to use 80% ground beef, but a combination of ground beef/lamb would also work. Aim for no less than 15% fat in ground beef or lamb for optimal flavor and texture.
So, what are the secret ingredients for making the most juicy kofta you've ever had?
Tomatoes, breadcrumbs, and baking powder.
Yes, you read that right!
First, we add one tomato into the onion/herb/spice mixture -- this adds moisture content that stays throughout the high heat baking/grilling. We bind the extra moist kofta mix with a little bit of breadcrumbs, and add some baking powder -- this combination helps it retain moisture and stay soft and tender.
I'm all about making anything I cook as efficient and easy as possible. I used to make this by finely dicing onions, then meticulously chopping herbs... hours later I had a messy kitchen and tired hands. Now, I use my food processor or blender to make the mixing and blending super easy. All the yummy, aromatic herbs and spices go in the blender, pulse a few times, then add to the beef and mix with your hands. A few finishing touches, and you're ready to shape them into patties, meatballs, or whatever shape you desire.
Kofta is one of the most versatile dishes in the Middle Eastern repertoire. It yields the best flavor when grilled, but tastes amazing fresh out of the oven, or pan fried on the stove and tossed into a garlicky tomato sauce. You literally can't go wrong! Will be posting lots of variations soon.
Bel hana wel shefa (Arabic: enjoy it with happiness and good health)! —Hajar D.
- Prep time 30 minutes
- Cook time 30 minutes
- Serves 6
ground beef, no more than 85% lean. Can use 50% lamb if desired.
large onion, cut into large chunks
cilantro and/or parsley, washed and spun in salad spinner or rolled in paper towel; rough chopped
plum tomato, cut into quarters
garlic cloves, peeled
breadcrumbs (plain or seasoned)
chili powder, optional
ground cardamom, optional
- Place meat and/or lamb into a large mixing bowl.
- In a food processor or multi-blade blender, add parsley and/or cilantro, onion, garlic, and tomato. Blend until it forms a paste.
- Add salt, pepper, allspice, cardamom and chili powder (if using). Mix until well blended.
- Pour onion/herb/spice mixture onto the beef/lamb. Using your hands, mix until well-blended.
- Add breadcrumbs and baking powder and mix again until everything is evenly distributed. You may need to add more breadcrumbs if the mixture is too soft or sticky.
- If preparing ahead of time, cover mixture with plastic wrap directly on the kofta mixture and store in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
- If making immediately, form into desired shapes (patties, fingers or meatballs). Make sure your kofta is at least 3/4 - 1 inch thick to maintain moisture.
- Cooking options: - Grill over gas/charcoal grill OR - Arrange on a baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes (until juices run clear) OR - Saute in a nonstick, cast iron, or stainless steel pan with 1 teaspoon of oil over medium high heat. Cook one side until medium brown, then flip and cook on all remaining sides.
- Serve hot or room temperature. Can be served with rice, pasta, rolled up into pitas and topped with tahini or Tzatziki sauce.