Often times, the yummiest things are the easiest to cook! Look at these Kofta Kebabs. They might come by with different names… Kefta… Kafta… Kofta…
All the same juicy and flavor packed kebabs from the Middle East and Mediterranean region. They are the easiest crowd pleasers for your next Mediterranean feast night.
Make a heap full of these fun hand held meals, throw in some easy salad along with Tzatziki and pita bread or saffron rice, and you are in for a lot of praises for minimum work on your part…
Sometimes I think, if they ask me what we cook most often in our home, it’s a lot of Mediterranean and Levantine food. It is so flavor packed with all of those earthy spices and fresh herbs.
We love our Greek Meatballs, Chicken Souvlaki, our unique Gyros along with fabulous dips like Moutabal, Zaalouk, and of course Tzatziki. I have been eating kebabs all my life, and have tried lots of kofta style kebabs.
These Kofta Kebabs are Going to be Your Favorite Meal, Cos
1. It’s a delicious and exotic meal that is going to please many taste buds. The kebabs have bold and fresh flavors, thanks to the abundant use of herbs and earthy Middle Eastern spices.
2. This meal is very easy, just mix all the ingredients and make koftas out of the mixture. Just like meatballs, only in this case they are an oblong shape molded onto skewers. If you make them ahead of time, it’s just a matter of cooking them in under 15 minutes or so. Great as a make ahead meal, you can make kebab skewers well ahead of time and refrigerate till ready to cook.
3. You can grill them outdoors, cook on stovetop in a griddle pan, or even bake them.
4. They’re perfect as a center piece for your get togethers and can feed the crowd. Make a platter out of these kebabs along with a few of their famous dips, and throw in some flatbreads like pita or naan bread, along with a simple salad. Take these to table and everyone can build up their own individual meal.
5. They freeze beautifully, so you can cook plenty and freeze for future meals.
What is Kofta, or Kefta?
Kofta kebabs are known by many names: Kefta, Kafta, Kofte, Koobideh, Kifta and so many similar sounding names. These kebabs are a specialty out of the Middle East, Levant and many Mediterranean countries. Every country has their own version of kofta, with little differences in ingredients.
They are believed to have originated around the Persian region, and the word “Kofta” means pounded or ground.
Koftas are made with ground meat, usually ground beef or ground lamb, or sometimes a mix of both. It is mixed and marinated with lots of fresh ingredients including onion, garlic, fresh herbs like parsley and mint, and a few other special exotic earthy spices. Then they are either formed as oblong meatballs, or made cylindrical on skewers, and traditionally cooked over an open flame.
Kofta kebabs are usually enjoyed with any regional flatbreads like pita, lavash, taboos or naan bread, along with dips like hummus, baba ghanoush, moutabal, tzatziki and raw vegetables. Often times, they are served over a bed of saffron rice or jewel rice.
Kofta Kebab Ingredients:
- Ground beef or ground lamb – Today we are using ground beef for this kofta recipe. But you can use ground lamb instead, or a mix of the two. Whichever way, it comes out delicious.
- Aromatics – Onion, garlic, fresh parsley (you can also use some mint if available)
- Herbs and spices – cinnamon, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, cayenne, salt, pepper and sumac. Sumac is a Middle Eastern spice with citrusy hints, which gives very authentic flavors. Highly recommended, but you can still make great kofta kebabs in its absence.
How to make Kofta kebabs:
1. Marinate ground meat: Like meatballs, it’s as easy as mixing all the ingredients in a bowl, forming them, and cooking. We highly recommend that you store the meat mixture in the refrigerator for at least an hour, preferably more, to absorb all the earthy great flavors. We marinated the ground meat in the morning to cook for dinner. Simply cover it with cling wrap and refrigerate it till ready to cook. Keeping the meat mixture in the refrigerator also helps when you are forming the koftas. Alternately, you can mold them onto the skewers and refrigerate that way.
2. Skewer the Koftas: If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in water for about 30 minutes to an hour. This is to prevent them from catching fire if you are grilling them.
Divide the mixture into 8 roughly even balls. Mold each ball into a cylinder. Insert the skewer into the kebab. They should be about 1 inch in thickness. You can also make finger marks all along to make them look like authentic kofta kebabs.
3. Cook the koftas: Place the kofta kebabs on a preheated, sizzling, oiled grill or indoor griddle pan, and cook until cooked and browned throughout, rotating the skewers with tongs every 2-3 minutes. We cooked them on an indoor grill pan for a total of 8-10 mins. The cooking time will depend upon the thickness of the kebabs.
For outdoor grills, preheat the grill to 450° to 550°F and grill till brown all over, about 6-8 minutes, turning a few times.
Can I Bake Kofta Kebabs?
Yes, of course. You can bake kofta kebabs in a preheated oven at 350°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet and line up the koftas. Bake for 30 minutes, turning half way through.
What to Serve with Kefta Kebab
Storage and Leftovers
How to Store: Keep the kofta kebabs covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. This will freeze well in a freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw for 1 day in the refrigerator before reheating.
How to Reheat: You can bake them in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 6-8 minutes, or until hot. Similarly, you can microwave them, covered, until warmed through.
Feast on this kofta kebab platter. Think about this great company meal, or weekend dinner for your friends and family, the next time you want to cook something special. All you need is a few simple ingredients, and you end up with a meal way better than regular meatballs.
When you add in all the fixings and trimmings along with these koftas, the result is one delicious exotic experience over lots of laughter and good times.
Kofta Kebab, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 1.5lbs ground beef or ground lamb
- 1/2 small onion, grated and squeezed
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 cup parsley, chopped
- 1/2 Tbsp sumac (optional)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- red onion
- saffron rice or pita bread
- Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. Store it covered in the refrigerator for at least one hour, or overnight for enhanced flavors.
- If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for about 30 minutes to an hour.
- Divide the mixture into 8 roughly even balls. Mold each ball into a cylinder. Insert the skewer into the kebab. They should be about 1 inch in thickness.
- Place the kofta kebabs on the preheated, oiled griddle pan (see notes for oven and grill instructions). Cook until cooked and browned throughout, rotating the skewers with tongs every 2-3 minutes, for a total of 8-10 mins. The cooking time will depend upon the thickness of kebabs.
- Serve immediately with side fixings like tomato, cucumber, onion, tzatziki, feta, saffron rice or pita bread.
- You can bake these in a preheated oven at 350°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet and line up the koftas. Bake for 30 minutes, turning half way through.
- For outdoor grilling, preheat the grill to 450° to 550°F and grill till brown all over, about 6-8 minutes, turning a few times.
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