Hello to all the food lovers out there! Have you ever found yourself craving something savory, juicy, and oh-so-delicious that just screams comfort food? Today, we're diving into the aromatic world of Middle Eastern cuisine with our kofta kebab recipe. Trust me, once you’ve had a taste of these succulent morsels of seasoned ground meat, grilled to perfection and served with warm pita bread, you’ll be hooked!
1 - Why You Will Love This Recipe
Lamb kofta kebabs or beef kofta kebabs, no matter your preference, this dish is a big crowd pleaser. It's hearty, flavorful, and great for gatherings. Plus, it's flexible! Want to impress at your next BBQ? Get that charcoal grill going. Looking for a quick weeknight dinner? Whip out your trusty grill pan. This recipe is for everyone, from the outdoor grill enthusiasts to apartment dwellers. I promise, each bite will transport you to a world of rich spices and herbs, making this a delightful journey for your taste buds.
2 - The Best Cut of Meat For This Recipe
- Recommended Cut For This Recipe
Our recipe calls for 2 lbs of 80% lean ground beef. The fat content is crucial because it ensures that our kebabs stay juicy and flavorful. My personal recommendation is wagyu beef, specifically from Snake River Farms, known for their high-quality cuts. This rich and buttery beef really elevates the dish and leaves your guests begging for your secret ingredient. If you're shopping locally, look for evenly distributed marbling in the beef, which is an indicator of superior taste and tenderness.
- Other Cuts You Can Use For This Recipe
If wagyu isn’t accessible to you, don’t worry. You can substitute it with other types of ground meat. Ground turkey offers a leaner, but still flavorful, option. Alternatively, you can experiment with a combination of beef and lamb, which adds a touch of gamey flavor to the mix. Don’t be afraid to make this your own version of kofta, that’s the best part!
- Using Wagyu Beef, Grass-Fed Beef, or Dry Aged Beef for this Recipe
When preparing kofta kebabs, your choice of meat can significantly influence the end result. Opting for premium meats such as Wagyu or grass-fed beef can elevate your culinary creation to a new level. Renowned for their rich marbling, these meats impart a burst of succulent flavors, making your kebabs incredibly juicy and packed with taste. Particularly with Wagyu, the result is a tender, flavorful kebab that's hard to resist. However, remember that high-quality meats like these deserve careful cooking. Keep a keen eye on your kebabs and use a meat thermometer to confirm the internal temperature reaches 160°F, indicating perfectly cooked kebabs. On the contrary, dry-aged beef, while having a concentrated flavor, doesn't necessarily enhance our kofta kebab, as the unique mix of herbs and spices in this recipe already creates a distinctive flavor profile. Hence, it's advised to save those dry-aged cuts for your steaks. If you're intrigued by dry-aged beef, check out Omaha Steaks, a reliable online distributor with a vast selection.
3 - Tools Needed
Skewers are essential for kebabs. Whether you use metal or wooden skewers (remember to soak them in water to prevent burning), they allow for easy grilling, flipping, and eating. Plus, food on a stick always seems more fun, doesn't it? You can find skewers at your local kitchen supply store or online.
- Large Bowl
You'll need a large bowl to mix your meat and other simple ingredients. It's ideal to choose a deep one, so you can really get in there and combine everything without spilling. Using your hands (clean, of course!), is the best way to mix your ingredients together. Trust me, your hands are your best tool here.
- Grill or Skillet
Whether you use a gas grill, charcoal grill, or a grill pan, the goal is to cook your kebabs evenly and give them that beautiful charred exterior. Grilling adds an extra flavor to our kofta kebabs, making them taste like they've just come off an open flame at a Middle Eastern street market.
4 - Cooking Tips
- Making This Recipe on the Grill
There's something incredibly satisfying about cooking over an open flame. Using a charcoal grill or gas grill provides your kofta kebabs with an irresistible smoky flavor. However, be careful not to overcook them. Keep your grill on medium-high heat and flip the kebabs occasionally for even cooking.
- Making This Recipe in the Oven
If you don't have a grill, no worries! You can bake your kofta kebabs. Just preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C), place kebabs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for about 25-30 minutes. Keep in mind that baking won't provide the smoky flavor of grilling, but the kebabs will still be tasty.
- Making This Recipe Sous Vide
Yes, you can sous vide your kofta kebabs! This method ensures perfectly cooked, juicy kebabs, but it does take longer. Simply vacuum seal your shaped kebabs (off the skewers), place them in a water bath at 145°F (63°C) for 1-2 hours, then finish them off on a high heat grill or griddle pan for that essential charred exterior.
- Other Cooking Tips
First, don't skimp on the herbs. Fresh herbs like parsley and mint leave give your kofta that authentic Middle Eastern flavor. Second, be patient when shaping your koftas onto the skewers; take your time to ensure they are well formed and stay on the skewers. Third, when grilling, don't press down on the kebabs as this squeezes out the tasty juices.
Here is another recipe you might like:
5 - Step-by-Step for this Grilled Kofta Recipe
In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef and all the ingredients. Mix everything together until well combined.
Divide the ground meat mixture into equal portions (depending on how big you want your kebabs to be), and roll each portion into an oblong shape around the soaked bamboo skewers or metal kebab skewers, making sure they are firmly packed around the skewer.
Brush the kefta kabob skewers with olive oil on all sides.
Place your kefta kabob skewers on the grill and cook for about 8-10 minutes, turning them occasionally, until they are browned and cooked through. I recommend using a grill mat to make sure you do not overcook the meat.
Once the kebabs are cooked, remove them from the grill and let them rest for a few minutes before serving.
Serve the kebabs hot with some pita bread, cucumber yogurt sauce, and a side salad.
6 - Storage Instructions
- In the Fridge
After grilling, let the kofta kebabs cool down to room temperature, then store them in an airtight container in the fridge. They can last up to 3-4 days.
- In the Freezer
For longer storage, place cooled kebabs in a freezer-safe container or a freezer bag, separating layers with parchment paper to prevent sticking. They can be stored for up to 3 months.
- The Best Way to Reheat This Recipe
To reheat, first, thaw the frozen kebabs in the refrigerator overnight. Then, place the kebabs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and warm in a preheated oven at 325°F (165°C) for about 10-15 minutes, or until heated through.
7 - Side Dishes
This salad is made with cucumber, red onion, and fresh mint, all dressed in a simple vinaigrette of olive oil and lemon juice. It's a refreshing and cooling side dish that complements the savory and slightly spicy taste of the kofta kebabs.
This flavorful salad is made with roasted chickpeas, mixed with diced tomatoes, red onion, and cucumber, all tossed in a tangy lemon and olive oil dressing. It's a hearty and satisfying side dish that complements the meaty taste of the kofta kebabs.
A classic side dish for kefta kabob skewers, warm pita bread is a soft and pillowy bread that is perfect for scooping up the meat and sauces. It can also be used to make sandwiches with the leftover kebabs.
A fragrant and flavorful rice dish made with garlic, cilantro, and fragrant basmati rice. The garlic and cilantro add a fresh and zesty flavor to the rice, making it a perfect complement to the rich and savory taste of the kofta kebabs.
A tangy and creamy sauce made with yogurt, cucumber, garlic, and dill. The cool and refreshing taste of tzatziki sauce pairs perfectly with the warm and savory taste of the kofta kebabs. It also helps to cut through the richness of the meat and adds a delicious tangy flavor.
Final Take Away
This kofta kebab recipe is simple, delicious, and versatile. You can enjoy these kebabs in many different ways – sandwiched in warm pita with a garlicky yogurt sauce, over a bed of fragrant rice, or alongside fresh vegetables for a lighter meal. This is one recipe that's bound to become a family favorite.
- 8 Skewers Bamboo or metal
- 2 lb ground beef 80% lean ground beef or wagyu beef (recommended)
- ¼ cup whole milk
- ½ cup dried bread crumbs
- ½ cup yellow onion grated and drained
- 4 units garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup fresh mint chopped
- 2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- Olive oil
Preparing The Meat
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, milk, bread crumbs, onion, garlic, lemon zest, cumin, salt, pepper, mint, and gelatin. Blend well until all ingredients are evenly distributed. You may use a food processor to help you with this step, especially for larger batches.
- Divide the mixture into eight equal portions. Shape each portion into an oblong form around your choice of skewer, making sure the mixture is packed firmly.
- Brush each kebab with olive oil on all sides.
For The Grill:
- Preheat your grill to medium-high heat according to its instruction manual.
- Place the kebabs on the grill, cook for about 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally until browned and fully cooked.
For Indoor Grill Pan or Skillet:
- Preheat your indoor grill pan and brush with oil.
- Cook the kebabs on the grill pan for about 6-8 minutes per side until browned and fully cooked. Turn the kebabs gently using tongs or a spatula.
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Place the kebabs on a baking sheet and cook in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, turning halfway through until browned and fully cooked.
For Sous Vide:
- Preheat your sous vide to 131°F (55°C) for medium-rare or 140°F (60°C) for medium.
- Seal the skewered kebabs in a vacuum-sealed bag and cook in the sous vide bath for 1-2 hours.
- Finish the kebabs on a hot grill or grill pan for 1-2 minutes per side to get a nice sear and additional flavor.
- Regardless of the cooking method, use a meat thermometer to ensure the kebabs reach an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C).
- Rest the cooked kebabs for a few minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute, ensuring juicy and tender meat.
- Ground turkey can be a substitute for beef in this recipe. If using, aim for a higher fat content mixture for juicier kebabs. Adjust seasoning as per taste and ensure an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
- The kebabs are fully cooked when they reach the correct internal temperature, are browned outside, and the juices run clear. Avoid overcooking to prevent a dry and tough texture. Enjoy your kofta kebabs with pita bread, cucumber yogurt sauce, and a side salad!
Frequently Asked Questions
Kafta and kofta are essentially the same dish, primarily differing in name due to regional dialects and variations across Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisines. Both refer to spiced, minced or ground meat—typically beef, lamb, or chicken—formed into balls, patties, or skewered cylinders. However, the specific spices and herbs used may vary. Kofta is a broad term used across a large region, while Kafta is a specific type of kofta used mostly in Levantine cuisine (Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan), which often includes parsley and onions.
Kafta is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine, particularly in the Levantine region, which includes countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine. It's hard to pinpoint the exact country of origin due to the dish's widespread popularity and regional variations across the Middle East and North Africa. However, the method of grinding meat and shaping it into skewers has ancient roots in this region.
Generally, stew meat, which is often cut from tougher parts of the animal, is not the best choice for kafta kabobs. This is because kabobs typically require quick, high-heat cooking, which can make the tougher stew meat dry and chewy. Kafta kabobs are typically made with ground or minced meat, which ensures a tender and juicy result. Ground beef with a moderate fat content, around 80% lean, is an excellent choice. If you prefer, you can also use ground lamb or chicken.