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What makes a great Kafta?

Described as everything from a type of meatball to meatloaf on a stick, kafta is perfect as a snack, ideal for summer grilling and has been part of Lebanese cuisine for centuries. However, we aren’t the only ones to fall in love with this delicious dish, as there are literally hundreds of different versions spanning countless cultures, known as everything from kufta to kofta to qofte. Here is a brief look at the greatest of them all; the mouth-watering, delectable and unforgettable Lebanese kafta.

what makes great kafta

CC Image courtesy of Michelle DT on Flickr

Making kafta is easy, but creating a truly delicious kafta is a whole other matter. In fact, almost every Lebanese family has their own secret recipe that has been handed down through the generations.

What is kafta?

In its most traditional form, kafta is essentially a mixture of seasoned ground meat that is shaped into balls or cylinders, skewered and cooked over a fire. It can be made from lamb, beef, chicken, seafood and there are even vegetarian varieties, but the traditional Lebanese version is always lamb. While some eat their kafta directly from the stick (as is the case on the streets of the Middle East) it is more commonly added to a pita with vegetables and condiments.

An ancient Persian dish

No one knows for certain when and where kafta was first made and eaten; however, it is safe to assume that cooking meat on a stick over an open fire is a rather ancient practice. Most scholars believe that it was the Persians who created the first kafta several thousand years ago, with the word itself coming from the Persian koftah, meaning ground meat. The Persians are thought to have introduced kafta to the Arab world many hundreds of years ago and from here it spread throughout the Mediterranean, North Africa, Asia, India, and beyond.

best kafta in inner west

CC image courtesy of Blondinrikard Fröberg on Flickr

A kafta to suit everyone

As kafta spread it evolved and adapted to suit the many different cultures it encountered, resulting in the myriad of kaftas made and enjoyed throughout the world today. For example; in Albania it is called kofta and is made from beef, pork or veal, while in Romania it is called chiftea, a mix of minced pork, mashed potatoes and spices, which are then deep fried. Many Indian versions are vegetarian, served in spiced gravy, and in Turkey kafta creativity knows no bounds as there are almost 300 different varieties!

How to make Kafta

Making kafta is easy, but creating a truly delicious kafta is a whole other matter. In fact, almost every Lebanese family has their own secret recipe that has been handed down through the generations. If you’d like to try making your own kafta, here is a brief look at what is involved;

  • In a food processor, combine freshly ground lamb, onion, garlic, parsley and your favourite spices (hint: cumin, coriander, cinnamon and baharat are popular choices).
  • Add an egg to the mixture, combine thoroughly and remove from the food processor.
  • Form your mixture into cigar shapes, thread onto flat metal skewers and lightly brush with oil.
  • Grill over low heat on the barbeque or in the oven, turning regularly.
  • Once cooked, remove your kafta from the skewers and serve with fresh pita, hummus, garlic yoghurt and your favourite condiments.
best kofta in sydney

CC image courtesy of Jessica Spengler on Flickr

If all this talk about kafta has awakened your appetite, we can help, simply drop by Manoosh or order from us online. We have the best traditional Lebanese food in Sydney and we would be happy to prepare one of our many tasty dishes fresh for you.

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