What do you go back to when inspiration is lacking? And what recipes do you turn to when time is not on your side, but you don’t want to compromise on taste and nutrition?
We all have a handful of never-fail, safety-net recipes that we default to when we don’t have time or motivation to be creative or try new recipes, and that’s something I absolutely love.
I love the comfort of knowing that even on a crappy, busy, hectic day, when the least thing I could be bothered to do is come up with ideas on what to cook, I have a handful of loyal, simple recipes that I know will always work and are delicious. This Beef Kofta recipe is one of those trusted few, and not only is it delicious, it’s packed full of goodness and is so quick and easy to make that all you need is 15 minutes in the kitchen. Promise!
Kofta is a BIG deal in Egypt. Actually, it’s a rather big deal in many other Middle-Eastern countries, but I’ll just speak on behalf of my own hometown. Kofta is basically patties or balls (or any shape, really) made of minced meat such as beef mixed with spices and herbs. We have ENDLESS variations of kofta recipes that frequent every Egyptian kitchen and restaurant. There’s, grilled kofta, fried kofta, breaded kofta, kofta stews, stuffed kofta…you get the picture. In my opinion, the basic grilled beef kofta is probably the most popular and most commonly consumed of them all, and this is my simple recipe that I quickly throw together whenever I want something fool-proof, comforting, and guaranteed to satisfy.
The whole recipe comes together in just 15 minutes, and the result is these incredibly juicy, lightly spiced, charred beef fingers that are perfectly wrapped in a warm pita loaf with plenty of tahini sauce and a few fresh-sliced veggies’ pleasing even the pickiest of palates – especially the kiddos!
I love how easy the recipe is, how accessible and affordable the ingredients are, and how you don’t really need any planning to pull it off at a moment’s notice. I usually have most of these ingredients on hand, and when I don’t, they’re a breeze to find at any good supermarket.
Beef mince is probably one of the most used meats in my house, and I welcome any recipe that makes use of its versatility and flavour.…and honestly, nothing says laid-back comfort food like sitting down with a fat, warm kofta roll in your hands – no utensils required!
They are also one of my favourite things to serve a crowd for a casual barbecue, as they’re a massive crowd-pleaser.
Please do not feel deterred that you have to shape the kofta; I promise you even a small child can handle the task with ease. I’ve made a short video for you just to show you how simple the whole process is, I hope you enjoy it!
*This post is generously sponsored by ‘Better on Beef’
- FOR THE KOFTA
- • 1 onion, quartered
- • ½ bunch of fresh parsley
- • 1 tsp. salt
- • 1 tsp. mixed spice
- • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
- • 500g minced beef (preferably with some fat content, not the super lean kind)
- • olive oil, for brushing and shaping
- FOR THE TAHINI SAUCE
- • ½-cup tahini paste
- • Juice of half a lemon
- • 1 tsp. vinegar
- • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
- • Cold water, as needed
- • Salt to taste
- TO SERVE:
- • Small pita loaves or wraps of choice (I like to use small wholewheat pita loaves)
- • Fresh tomato slices
- • Fresh red onion slices
- • Fresh greens, such as parsley, rocket or lettuce
- Make the kofta: In a food processor, combine the onion, parsley, salt and spices. Process until very finely chopped, scraping down the sides as needed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, along with the beef. Use your hands to mix and knead everything together until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Try not to over-mix or overwork the mixture once it is uniform, as this may result in tough kofta.
- Shape the koftas: Place a large grill-pan, or any heavy-based pan, onto medium heat and leave it to heat up while you shape the kofta; you want it smoking hot before you start cooking!
- Moisten your hands with a little oil, then start shaping handfuls of the kofta mixture into logs. The size of the logs is up to you, but remember that they do shrink during cooking and larger koftas take longer to cook. Aim for a size that is slightly bigger than the loaves or wraps you plan to use for an easily-held sandwich (6-8 koftas out of this amount is good).
- Cook the koftas: Once the kofta is shaped, brush them lightly with oil, then place immediately onto the hot grill-pan, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes on the first side, then turn the koftas frequently until they are nicely browned and charred on all sides and cooked through. This takes about a further 5 minutes.
- Make the tahini sauce: In a bowl, combine the tahini, lemon juice, vinegar and cumin, and whisk together. You will notice that it might become a bit lumpy when you add the acids; this is normal. Start adding cold water about a tablespoon at a time while continuing to whisk, until the mixture lightens in colour and all the lumps disappear (don’t panic, it can really get lumpy!). I tend to use between 6-10 tbsp. water, depending on the brand of tahini. Once the sauce is totally smooth, yet still thick enough to spread onto the bread without dripping all over the place, season with salt to taste.
- Assemble the rolls: Smear a generous amount of the tahini sauce onto your pita loaves/wraps. Add a few slices of tomato & onion and a small handful of greens, then top with a kofta while it is still super hot. Wrap it up and enjoy!
2. After shaping the kofta, you can cover it and refrigerate for up to 2 days until ready to cook, or freeze it for up to 3 months (when stored correctly). Simply defrost in the fridge before you cook it!
3. If you like, you can use your finger to make indentations on the kofta while flattening it slightly, as I do in the video above. However, this is totally optional, so you can just leave them as logs if you prefer!
4. Overcrowding the pan causes the temperature to drop and the meat to stew, so you won’t get a beautifully browned kofta.