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Beef Kofta Kebab ( Middle eastern kofta )

Kofta kebab holds a special place in Middle Eastern cuisine, known for its straightforward yet satisfying flavors. Ground meat, skillfully seasoned, is molded onto cylinders. The result is a dish with a delightful outer texture and a juicy interior. This traditional preparation makes it a favorite for gatherings, family dinners and Ramadan iftar, showcasing the beauty of simple ingredients combined harmoniously.

Kofta Kebab

What is Kofta Kebab?

At its core, Kofta Kebab is a delectable dish made of ground meat, which can be beef, lamb, or sometimes chicken. This meat is generously seasoned with herbs and spices, then shaped into balls, patties, or cylindrical forms, and finally cooked to perfection. Depending on where you are in the Middle East, the name and specific preparation of this dish can vary, but the essence remains the same – a savory, meaty delight that tickles the taste buds.

Kofta Kebab

Origins of Kofta

Tracing the exact origins of Kofta Kebab can be a bit complex, given that many ancient civilizations had their versions of meat dishes. However, the term “kofta” is believed to have originated from the Persian word “kūfta”, meaning “to pound” or “to grind”, referring to the ground meat that’s its main ingredient.

Kofta Kebab

While both kofta and kebab are based on ground meat, their preparation and presentation can differ. In many parts of the Middle East, kofta refers more to the homemade version, often cooked in pans and taking shapes like meatballs or patties. Kebab or Kabab, on the other hand, especially in a restaurant setting, is typically skewered and grilled over an open flame, offering a smokier flavor.

Kofta Kebab

In the age of modern cooking, traditional dishes are getting contemporary makeovers. A prime example is the air fryer version of kofta. Not only does it cut down the cooking time, but it also ensures your kofta is cooked evenly, with a crispy exterior and juicy interior. It’s a testament to how age-old recipes can adapt to our fast-paced world, without losing their authentic taste.

This kofta kebab recipe is my go-to whenever I have ground beef. I prepare it in advance, freeze it, and then use my air fryer for a quick meal. I typically pair it with sautéed onion slices and tomato pieces on warm pita bread.

Kofta Kebab

Ingredients needed for Kofta Kebab

  1. Lean Ground Beef: The main protein base for the kebabs, offering a rich, meaty flavor.
  2. Lamb Fat: Adds juiciness and a distinct depth of flavor to the kebabs. It helps to keep the beef moist and imparts a traditional taste.
  3. Onion: Provides a mild aromatic backdrop when mixed into the meat. It’s typically finely grated or minced so it integrates well into the kofta mixture.
  4. Parsley: Fresh parsley gives a burst of herbaceous flavor and a touch of color. Make sure to chop it finely for a uniform blend.
  5. Garlic Clove: Introduces a punchy, aromatic depth to the kebabs. It’s essential to mince or press the garlic for even distribution.
  6. Bread Crumbs: Helps bind the mixture together, ensuring the kebabs hold their shape. They also absorb moisture, making the final product tender.
  7. Salt: Enhances the overall flavor profile of the kebabs. Adjust to personal preference.
  8. Black Pepper: Adds a subtle spicy kick and complements the savory meat flavors.
Kofta Kebab

How to make Kofta Kebab step by step

  • Preparation of Ingredients:
    • Start by cutting the onion into quarters.
    • In a food processor, combine the quartered onion, parsley, and peeled garlic. Pulse the mixture until everything is finely minced and well-blended, ensuring that no large chunks remain. This method not only simplifies the preparation but also ensures a more integrated flavor in the kebabs.
Kofta Kebab
  • Mixing the Ingredients:
    • In a large mixing bowl, combine the lean ground beef and lamb fat. Break apart any lumps and ensure they are well integrated.
    • Add the prepared onion, parsley, and garlic to the meat mixture.
    • Sprinkle in the bread crumbs, and season with salt and black pepper.
    • Use your hands to mix everything thoroughly, ensuring all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
Kofta Kebab
  • Shaping the Kofta Kebabs:
    • Take a portion of the meat mixture, roughly the size of a tennis ball, and shape it into a cylinder. If you’re using skewers, wrap it around the skewer, forming an elongated cylindrical shape. Alternatively, you can shape them into patties.
    • The size of the portion can be adjusted to your preference, whether you prefer smaller portions for shorter kebabs or larger ones for longer kebabs.
Kofta Kebab
  • Cooking:
    • If you’re using an air fryer: Preheat the air fryer as per its instructions. Place the kofta kebabs inside, ensuring they don’t overlap. Cook according to the air fryer’s guidelines for meat or until they are browned outside and cooked through inside. The exact time can vary based on the air fryer model and the size of your kebabs.
Kofta Kebab
  • Serving:
    • With Flatbreads: Serve the cooked kofta kebabs on warm pita bread, topped with pan-seared onion slices and tomato chunks. You can add fresh vegetables and a drizzle of tahini or yogurt sauce.
    • On Rice: Lay the kebabs over a bed of fragrant pilaf or saffron rice, and perhaps complement with a side of grilled vegetables.
    • Salad Companions: Serve alongside a fresh tabbouleh or fattoush salad for a refreshing touch. also it’s pair wonderfully with onion salad.
    • Dipping Sauces: Hummus, tzatziki (Jajik), or muhammara are excellent choices for dipping your kofta kebabs.
    • Pita wrap: Kofta kebabs can be wonderfully served wrapped in pita bread, creating a delicious and satisfying sandwich. Add an accompaniments such as sliced tomatoes, red onions, and fresh herbs like parsley. Drizzle with your choice of sauce, such as tahini, tzatziki, hummus, or even hot sauce for an extra kick.
Kofta Kebab

Notes and tips:

  • Meat Selection: Choose lean ground beef and lamb fat for a well-balanced kofta. The combination of lean and fatty meat adds flavor and juiciness. I usually get lamb fat saved from lamb legs I buy from Sam’s Club or I ask our local butcher for some. If lamb fat is hard to find just use 20% fat ground beef instead of lean.
  • Seasoning: Experiment with different spices and herbs to suit your taste. Common additions include cumin, coriander, paprika, and seven spices.
  • Shaping Kebabs: When shaping the kebabs, make sure they are uniform in size and shape for even cooking. If using skewers, wet your hands to prevent the meat from sticking.
  • Freezing (if prepping ahead) Freezing the kofta kebabs after shaping can save you time on busy days. Just make sure they are well wrapped to prevent freezer burn.
  • Cooking Methods: Kofta kebabs can be cooked using various methods, including grilling, baking, pan-frying, or air frying. Choose the one that suits you best.

Here’s some recipes you might want to check out

Middle Eastern Beef Kofta Kabab

Sarah Yaseen
Kofta kebab is a popular dish in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and South Asian cuisines, characterized by its mixture of ground meat, herbs, and spices.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine egyption, Middle Eastern
Servings 4 people


  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 cup parsley packed
  • 1 onion
  • ½ cup bread Crumbs
  • 200 g lamb fat approx.
  • 1 glove garlic
  • salt
  • black pepper


  • Start by cutting the onion into quarters. In a food processor, combine the quartered onion, parsley, and peeled garlic. Pulse the mixture until everything is finely minced.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine ground meat, and lamb fat. Mix using you hands  until they are well integrated.
  • Add the prepared onion, parsley, garlic, bread crumbs, and seasoning to the meat mixture. Use your hands to mix everything thoroughly
  • Take a portion of the meat mixture, roughly the size of a tennis ball. Shape it into a cylindrical form.
  • Preheat your air fryer to 360℉. Place the kofta kebabs on the grill ensuring they don’t overlap and cook for 8-10 minutes or until they are cooked through and have a nice char on the outside.
  • Once cooked, remove from the grill and serve immediately with yellow rice, salad, sauce or your choice of accompaniments,
Keyword 30 minutes recipe, kofta kebab recipe
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Whisked Eastern Wonders

Hello! I’m Sarah, a stay-at-home mom with a deep love for Middle Eastern flavors, especially Iraqi cuisine. Between family life’s bustle, my kitchen is my sanctuary where I meld tradition with innovation. Join me here as I share quick, flavorful dishes and my passion for photography. Let’s savor together!