A popular Middle Eastern street food, kafta kebabs are made with ground meat, onion and parsley. Served over rice or wrapped in pita bread, you’ll want to drizzle each bite with tahini sauce.
It’s hard to pick a favorite Lebanese dish but if you asked my husband and kids, it would be a tie between baked kibbeh and kafta kebabs. Both made with a base of ground meat and Lebanese spices, kafta is a bit quicker to make which is why it’s such an ideal weeknight dinner recipe.
The secret to making kafta kebabs is to pulse parsley and onion until finely minced in a high speed food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, simply mince the onion and parsley as fine as possible with a sharp chef’s knife.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Where does kafta originate?
Kafta comes in a variety of forms around the world including Turkey, Greece, India and Asia. Similar in texture to a meatball, it is most commonly made with ground meat, parsley, onion and spices. The Lebanese version also has cinnamon, nutmeg and all-spice but it’s just as good without.
What type of meat should I use?
My family uses a mixture of ground sirloin and ground lamb but you can also use 100% sirloin or 100% lamb. If you don’t have ground sirloin, ground chuck works too.
Can I make this dish without a food processor?
Yes just finely mince the parsley and onion with a sharp chef’s knife.
Can I make this dish without a grill?
Absolutely! Just use the broiler instead. Directions are included below.
You can form these kebabs on a skewer or simply form them by hand – whichever you prefer. While olive oil isn’t necessary, I like to put it on the pan to prevent them from sticking.
When grilling, I like to rotate every two minutes for a total of 8 minutes per skewer. This usually results in perfectly tender, medium beef.
To serve, I like to wrap the kafta kebabs in warmed pita bread with onion, tomato and tahini sauce. You can also serve it over Lebanese Rice Pilaf but don’t skip on the tahini sauce – it makes the dish! Not a fan of tahini? Try Cucumber Yogurt Sauce instead.
If you don’t plan to serve right away, keep the kafta kebabs warm in the oven then serve with the pita bread right before you plan to enjoy. Otherwise, the pita bread will get soggy.
Your fork is waiting.
Lebanese Kafta Kebab with Tahini Sauce
- ¼ cup tahini
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- warm water
- pita bread, onion slices, tomato slices (optional, to serve)
- Drizzle olive oil on a large baking sheet and set aside.
- Place the parsley and onion in a high-speed food processor and pulse until finely minced.
- Add beef and spices to the food processor and pulse until the meat mixture is smooth. Tip: if it has a hard time coming together, add a couple of tablespoons of ice water (it's ok to even add in an ice cube!) Remove mixture from the food processor and shape into 8 long kebabs. Place on the oil-lined baking sheet until you're ready to grill or broil.
- Pre-heat grill or broiler to high heat. Grill for 7-8 minutes, turning every couple minutes, for medium level beef. If you prefer medium rare, remove sooner. If you prefer well done, leave on a little longer.
- While beef is cooking, whisk together tahini sauce in a small bowl. Add warm water, one tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Serve with warm kafta kebabs.
Want more healthy Lebanese recipes? Head over to Pinterest!