Dinner

Kofta Kebab Recipe – Amira’s Pantry

Lamb kofta recipe is a popular Middle Eastern dish but these are not just another lamb koftas. I will share with you my family’s recipe for a tender and juicy kofta, that everyone has been asking me about.

A simple and easy kofta kebab recipe with just few ingredients and tons of Middle Eastern flavors. Here is my family’s recipe with all the tips and tricks for the best kofta (kafta) recipe.

Kofta skewers on a black plate with a bowl of tzatziki sauce
Forget about any meatball recipes that you know and make this delicious lamb and beef kofta next time.

Grilled meat mixture spiced up and flavored to get more exotic and interesting than your same old meatballs. Grilled, pan-fried or baked in the oven this kofta turns out great anyway you cook it. A crowd-pleaser and kid friendly all year long.

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❤️ Why You’ll Love It

Authentic middle eastern kofta kebabs are a melt in your mouth kind of kebabs. Great kofta must be juicy, tender and not too springy. This cannot be achieved with lean ground beef, better yet ( and more authentic) to add ground lamb to the meat mixture.

One of the common problems that people face when making kofta is that they break apart on their grill. Still taste great but the look was not what they hoped for. I give you many tips and ideas to make a killer kofta that will hold its shape through out the cooking process.

📝 Recipe Ingredients

Ingredients for kofta kebabs on a white marbled surface.

📋 Ingredient Notes

  • Groud beef, ground lamb: As mentioned before kofta needs some fat to be juicy. This is achieved usually by adding ground lamb to the meat mixture. You can go all beef but do not use lean ground beef, I recommend at least 20 percent fat.
  • Onions, and we usually use lots of onions but they need to be drained. More on that in the tips section. Some people also like using garlic cloves with onions.
  • Seasonings: we are going to keep it simple here. Salt and pepper are the most important then comes some kofta baharat which you can buy or DIY, more about that below.
  • A bun, any bread will do. Fresh, stale, whole wheat, whatever. We are going to use it to make a panade. You can use toast as well.

🥣 Equipment

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Kofta Bharat can be found in any Middle Eastern market. This Kofta Baharat is a brand I used to get in Egypt and I am happy to see online too. Below you will find a homemade baharat mix for kofta.

🥄 Instructions

Note: This is an overview of the instructions. The detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.

A collage of three photos showing how to make a panade for the kofta.
  1. In a deep bowl soak a bun in a liquid to make the panade. You can soak in milk, water or onion juice. I like to finely process the onion then squeeze it through a fine mesh or a cheese cloth. You’ll get enough juice to soak your bun. Feel free to add more water if the juices are not enough.
  2. let it sit for a few minutes then squeeze the juices out as much as you can.
  3. You will be left with something like a paste in your hands and that’s what we are going to add to the meat mixture.
A collage of three images showing how to make kofta mixture.
  1. Add all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Mix them well together by hand for at least 10 minutes, back in the old days people used to use a mortar and pestle to do this. If this is going to be hard for you then you can use a food processor as well. The point is to mix until the ground meat mixture is smooth.
  3. Shape the meat mixture on skewers or the rounded handle of a wooden spoon. Place kebabs on a baking sheet or any oven safe dish. You can also shape kofta into a meatball rounded shape. Grill on an or oven bake your kofta as described below.

💡 Expert Tips

Here are some tips and tricks Middle Eastern moms use for the perfect kofta kebabs each time. So pay close attention here as these tips are going to make your kofta stand out

  • In order for your kofta to be tender and juicy we will need fat. In Egypt kebab shops usually use lamb tail fat or what we call “lyieh”. It is not easy to get it here in the US so instead we use ground lamb meat. If you would like to make it with beef only use ground beef that is no less than 20% fat.
  • You will need to finely grate/process or chop the onions then squeeze the juices out of the grated onion as much as you can. Just throw the onions in your food processor then squeeze through a cheese cloth or a fine mesh much like what I did here in the chops recipe.
  • This juice can be used in many ways, first you can soak your bread in it for extra flavour. When you squeeze the bread though, you will be left with some so do not discard. Wet your hand in this water while shaping the kofta, gives even more delicious flavor. Some even brush the kofta with the onion juice.
  • Adding a bit of flour, although optional but highly recommended. It helps in shaping the kofta and maintaining its shape. This little amount of flour also absorbs unnecessary liquids that might cause the kofta to break apart.
  • Bake in the oven before grilling: I like cooking kofta in the oven for 10-15 minutes before grilling them for another 5. Covering the pan with foil brushed with some olive oil and letting them cook in the oven helps kofta stays tender and juicy and not to dry so fast also it prevents sticking to the grill racks. Then you just put them on the grill to get those grilling marks and to brown a little more. Kofta kebab can be finished off on a gas grill, charcoal grill or a grill pan to get those grilling marks.
  • Or bake them entirely in the oven: If you do not have a grill or your weather does not permit grilling then bake kofta in your oven. Preheat oven to 350, place the kofta on the middle rack for 15 minutes, then move up to the upper rack for 10 minutes but do not turn the broiler on. Of course, every oven is different so just use your cooking senses or meat should reach 160 degrees F on an instant meat thermometer.
  • Make ahead tip: You can freeze them in a single layer until firm then place them in a zip-lock bag. Bake right from frozen there is no need to thaw. Just give them a couple of minutes more.

💬 Recipe FAQs

What is kofta made of?

Kofta is usually made of minced meat, spices, onion and sometimes garlic. Meat can vary from beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, pork, shrimps, seafood combination and even vegetarian and vegan varieties.

What is vegetarian kofta?

Made with lentils or beans minced with some vegetable and spiced up to perfection. Served in any sauce like yogurt,curry sauce or tomato sauce.

👩‍🍳 Variations

  • It is very common to add a small bunch of finely chopped parsley to the meat mixture.
  • Also many use garlic in their kofta but I was brought up to a kofta without garlic so this is something to consider.
  • One of the readers asked about a tarb recipe. Tarb is basically kofta wrapped in lamb tail fat and then grilled. You can use this kofta recipe to make Tarb as well.
  • Ratio of ground beef to lamb beef is a personal preference. From my experience with making kofta I’ve found that 1:1 is the best ration for many people so feel free to play with it.

🍽️ Serve With

  • I make this recipe 3-4 times a month.. yes probably this goes on the menu each week just because my kids love kofta so much. I serve it with a side of yellow rice and for us we always have Arabic bread. Do not forget dips and sauces, Tzatziki (yogurt sauce), hummus , tahini and baba ganoush goes very well with any sort of kabobs you have. It is also highly recommended to serve with salata baladi(Egyptian salad) for the full kebab shop experience.
  • For a delicious weeknight dinner, I love serving this with molokhia and Lebanese rice.

Homemade Kofta Baharat Mix

If you cannot find Baharat mix in your store, you can make your own kofta baharat for each pound of ground meat use:
1 Tablespoon dry mint.
1 teaspoon ground cumin.
1 Tablespoon ground coriander.
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon.

Kofta skewers with tomato on a black plate we diced cucumber and pita bread in the back
Kofta is one of the most popular dishes in the middle eastern cuisine.

📣 More Kofta Recipes

I hope you’ll like this recipe and please if you make this recipe, snap a pic and hashtag it #amiraspantry — I love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter!
Don’t want to miss a recipe? Sign up for the FREE Amira’s Pantry newsletter delivered to your inbox with lots of tips and surprises! And stay in touch with me on FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, and Instagram for all the latest updates.

If you like this recipe do not forget to give it a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ star rating and attach a photo of your finished dish. It is always a pleasure of mine to see your photos and check your own take of the recipe. Thank you.

A plate of kofta in skewers

Kofta Kebab

Lamb kofta recipe is a popular Middle Eastern dish but these are not just another lamb koftas. I will share with you my family’s recipe for a tender and juicy kofta, that everyone has been asking me about.

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Course: Main Course

Cuisine: Mediterranean, Middle East

Diet: Halal

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Servings: 35 pieces

Calories: 145kcal

Instructions

  • Soak the bun in water until soft.

  • In a large bowl, mix all other ingredients together.

  • Squeeze water out of the bun and add to the meat mixture.

  • Mix everything until well incorporated.

  • If you are making meatballs, roll into little balls or else wrap the meat around wooden skewers.*

  • Place kofta kebabs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Cover the kofta with aluminum foil and cook in a 350F oven for 10-15 minutes.

  • While the kofta are in the oven, fire up your grill on high and grease the racks well.

  • Place the kofta fingers on the grill for 5 minutes or less to take the grilling marks and be browned.

  • Enjoy with your choice of side dishes and dips like toomeya, taktouka and tahini sauce.

Notes

  • In order for your kofta to be tender and juicy we will need fat. In Egypt kebab shops usually use lamb tail fat or what we call “lyieh”. It is not easy to get it here in the US so instead we use ground lamb meat. If you would like to make it with beef only use ground beef that is no less than 20% fat.
  • You can skip the lamb and make an all beef kofta, but it will not be as tender.
  • Use any type of onions you have yellow, white or red onion.
  • You will need to finely grate/process or chop the onions then squeeze the juices out as much as you can. Just throw the onions in your food processor then squeeze through a cheese cloth or a fine mesh much like what I did here in this lamb chops recipe.
  • This juice can be used in many ways, first you can soak your bread in it for more flavor. When you squeeze the bread though, you will be left with some so do not discard. Wet your hand in this water while shaping the kofta, gives even more delicious flavor. Some even brush the kofta with the onion juice.
  • Adding a bit of flour, although optional but highly recommended. It helps in shaping the kofta and maintaining its shape. This little amount of flour also absorbs unnecessary liquids that might cause the kofta to break apart.
  • You can add a bunch of fresh parsley to the meat as well, this is very common.
  • Bake in the oven before grilling: I like cooking kofta in the oven for 10-15 minutes before grilling them for another 5. Covering the pan with foil and letting them cook in the oven helps kofta stays tender and juicy and not to dry so fast also it prevents sticking to the grill racks. Then you just put them on the grill to get those grilling marks and to brown a little more.
  • Or bake them entirely in the oven: If you do not have a grill or your weather does not permit grilling then bake kofta in your oven. Preheat oven to 350, place the kofta on the middle rack for 15 minutes, then move up to the upper rack for 10 minutes but do not turn the broiler on. Of course, every oven is different so just use your cooking senses or meat should reach 160 degrees F on an instant meat thermometer.
  • Make ahead tip: You can freeze them in a single layer until firm then place them in a zip-lock bag. Bake right from frozen there is no need to thaw. Just give them a couple of minutes more.

Nutrition

Calories: 145kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 37mg | Sodium: 172mg | Potassium: 134mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1mg

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First published June 21, 2016. Last updated November 18 2022 for better user experience.

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