Kafta is basically a mixture of minced lamb, chopped onion and parsley. You could use minced beef instead of lamb. It is very versatile, recipes can be varied to suit the weather. The following one is inspired by the winter season. Although it is quicker to prepare Kafta in a blender, I prefer to chop parsley and onion by hand and finish off the mixing in the blender to keep the traditional texture.
Traditionally, we tend to bake kafta and kibbeh in round trays, but if you haven’t got any, use whatever shape within the approximate dimensions mentioned.
For the kafta
- 500gms / 1lb 2oz of lean minced lamb or beef
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 75gms / 3oz parsley, discard the thick stalks, leaving the very fine ones on the leaves. Wash and dry parsley leaves then finely chop them.
- Salt & freshly milled black pepper
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- ½ tsp cinnamon (optional)
- 500gms / 1lb 2oz floury potatoes peeled washed and sliced in circles for about 1 ½ to 2cm / ¾ inch thickness
- 500gms / 1lb 2oz tomatoes, preferably vine-ripened, washed and sliced in similar way to potatoes
For the Tahini sauce, see recipe in Sauces
You also need a non-stick round tray measuring 21cm in diameter, depth 5cm. Alternatively, you could use any other shapes within these approximate measurements.
- Tip minced meat into a bowl, season with salt, pepper, allspice and cinnamon (if using). Add the chopped onion and mix with your hands, then gradually add parsley and again mix everything. Transfer the mixture to a food processor, taste and if necessary adjust, blitz it once or twice to make sure you obtain a well combined mixture. Transfer it to a dish, cover with cling film and let it rest in fridge until you are ready to cook.
- Pre-heat the oven moderate to hot 190 ºC / 375 ºF.
- Par-boil the prepared potatoes for 3 minutes, drain and keep them on one side.
- Brush the base of the baking tray with a little vegetable oil. I find that the best way to spread the kafta is to divide it into 4 balls, dot them around the baking tray and flatten them with your knuckles to a thickness of about 2-3cm, and then smooth them together. Once you have finished, make a hole in the centre to create a vent space.
- Now, spread the potatoes over, season with pepper, top up with tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cover with aluminium foil and pop it in the oven for 40 minutes, it will shrink away from the sides of the baking tray. Take the cover off, at that stage you will notice the juices that came out off the meat and tomatoes, bake for another 15 minutes to dry off juices. Just 5 minutes before the finishing time, add the tahini sauce.
- Serve hot while the sauce is bubbling
1 You can substitute the Tahini sauce with tomato sauce:
Dissolve 3 tbsp of tomato paste in 150ml of hot water. Uncover the cooking kafta 15 minutes before the finishing time and add the tomato sauce.
2 Kafta mixture is very versatile and you can use it for many other dishes.