Kafta aromas hold thousands of childhood culinary memories. Lebanese Kafta is a mixture of ground meat with parsley, onions and spices. It is sometimes referred to as the “lebanese burger” but this meat preparation has various “applications” that make it great for BBQ, baked in the oven with potatoes and tomatoes, as meatballs in tomato stews with rice on the side, for my grandmother “Téta Emilie” famous fattit Kafta and much more…
I use a combination of ground beef and ground lamb. I don’t over grind the meat or put it in a food processor. After many years of trial and error I believe I found the key to a very flavorful Kafta with the correct ratio of beef to lamb, seasoning and texture.
Since I started posting pictures of my food on social media received a considerable amount of messages asking for the Kafta recipe. I first shared the details of this versatile Lebanese meat preparation in my newsletter dated January 2015.
You will find the basic Kafta recipe with small descriptions to help you with different Kafta based dishes. I will update this post along the way with any new recipe involving Kafta.
Recipe credits: Rafaella Sargi
2 pounds (1kg) ground beef (I use grass fed beef with a percentage of 10% fat)
1 pound (500 g) ground lamb
1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley
1 ½ cup roughly chopped white onion
4 slices of white sandwich bread
3 teaspoons of salt
1 ½ teaspoon of ground allspice
Scale and prep all the ingredients.
You will need one big bowl, one medium food processor fitted with the blade attachment and food safe gloves.
In a big mixing bowl, put the ground beef and the ground lamb. Set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, put the diced onions with the 3 teaspoons of salt and 1 ½ teaspoon of allspice and process until finely chopped. Add the parsley a little bit at a time, and process each time until completely blended. Add the bread, one slice at a time and process until everything seems well blended. Pour this mixture over the ground meats, put your gloves on and mix well until the onion/parsley mixture and the ground meat are mixed homogeneously.
Your kafta is ready!
The Kafta versatility and usage are endless but here is a small list of suggestions for delicious kafta applications:
BBQ: I form small “slider” size patties, poke a small dent in the center, arrange them in single layer on a tray. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge until ready to grill (the same day!). If the tray you are using is not big enough, place parchment paper between different layers of kafta so the patties won’t stick to each other. It works great as “lebanese burger” with hommos, topped with fresh tomatoes or a crispy green salad.
Oven Baked: Or commonly named: kafta wou batata bel feren in Lebanese. Every family prepares this dish differently but four elements make the base: kafta, tomato sauce, potato and tomato slices. Raf’s way: shape the kafta in small slider size patties. Sear them to have a thin crust and seal in the juices and set aside. Cut the potatoes in equal thickness, place on a single layer on a baking sheet, lightly brush with vegetable oil, sprinkle with salt and bake in a hot oven until lightly crispy. Remove from the oven and set aside. In a large baking dish, place the roasted potato slices in a single layer covering the whole surface of the baking dish, place the seared kafta patties on top (covering the whole surface as well), top each kafta with a thin slice of fresh tomato, pour a homemade basic tomato sauce on top and bake in a hot oven until the sauce bubbles and thickens and the kafta is cooked through.
In stews: Daoud Bacha > kafta meatballs with (a lot of) onions in a tomato ragout served with white rice. Or Kafta Harra > kafta meatballs in a spicy tomato broth with baby green peas and onions served with white rice as well.
Fattit Kafta: Crush one or two garlic cloves in two pounds of plain yogurt, season with a little bit of salt, cover and set aside in the fridge until ready to use. Cut small pieces of pita bread and bake them in the oven with a tiny drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper until golden and crispy. Set aside. Roast some pine nuts, drain on paper towel and set aside. Shape the kafta into small meatballs, sear them (in a skillet with a little bit of vegetable oil, but I prefer to place them on a baking sheet and bake them in a hot oven for 20 minutes, no fat needed and way easier to clean up!) and plonge them in a basic homemade tomato sauce, correct the seasoning with a little bit of salt and some ground allspice and keep very hot. Serve in individual bowls, few kafta with tomato sauce, a spoon of two of cold yogurt on top, add the grilled pita bread, pine nuts and top everything with fresh mint leaves. Enjoy! :))