The best thing about Kofta
is the dipping of bread into the sauce, the filling that dipped bread with a cutting of the cooked Kofta and including a piece of that roasted tomato and chewing on this heavenly food. Anything where you can grab food with a warm, fluffy pita bread is just heavenly food! No wonder the Levant is crazy about Kofta!!
Yes you will not go anywhere in the Levant and find anyone who does not know Kofta. This dish right here is part of home food, street fod and restaurant food. There are a variety of ways to prepare Kofta, all of which are equally legit, be it spread in a thin layer over a tray, rolled into fingers and roasted or added to stew, or rolled into balls and used in soup, or even spread over a skewer and Grilled over wood or charcoal, all are named Kofta and all are equally popular and loved. Kofta therefore is a term used for the meat mix, were the meat (lamb, beef, veal or a mix) is minced, then mixed with aromatics (herbs and spices) most commonly onion, garlic, salt and black pepper. Some add parsley, some don’t but most do and some add other spices and some don’t. Some even throw chilies into the mix. This is all mixed together to make a meat mix that is named **Kofta.
**Kofta, Kafta, Kifta are all the same, it is just different pronunciations according to area.
It is usually what follows the word Kofta that expresses the dish. For example, Kofta Bil Siniyeh is Kofta in a tray, so you know it is most likely roasted in the oven. Kofta Bil Tahini is Kofta in Tahini Sauce. Kofta Bi Dibs il Romman, is Kofta in Pomegranate Molasses sauce…etc.
As you can see some will use tahini, some will cook it in a tomato sauce, some in an onion sauce, in a cherry sauce or even a lemon sauce, and not to forget the delicious pomegranate sauce. It is all Kofta still.
The most popular two oven roasted Kofta varieties in Palestinian cuisine are the one in Tahini Sauce and the one in Tomato sauce. The rest are cooked and served too, but these are the most commonly prepared in this cuisine. Most people will include tomatoes, potatoes, sliced onions and chilies and some even add fried eggplants but most often it is the potatoes and tomatoes. I personally always leave the extra onions out of the one in Tahini sauce and use them only in the one with tomato sauce and always use only tomatoes and chilies with the tahini sauce. No potatoes, and no other vegetables. This is because I like to tatste the mix of meat, tahini and tomato uninterrupted with other vegetables. But don’t let that discourage you from trying all other ways, which are delicious too.
In researching the variety of Koftas cooked in the Levantine region, I have come to learn that the Syrian cuisine has one variety that no other cuisine has, which is the Kofta in cherry sauce, influenced by the Armenian community especially in areas more towards the North. Apart from Syrian cuisine, I have not encountered another Levantine cuisine preparing Kofta that way. Apart from that all Levantine cuisine (Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine) cook Kofta varieties more or less the same.
When I cooked this dish with Omayah for the Ramadan Special 2019, I saw she is carrying out exactly the same method we make for kofta in Tomato sauce, with a bit less tomato and adding pomegranate in the end. Watch the video below and see how she makes it. I on the other hand made Kofta in Tahini, because it is an iconic Palestinian cuisine Kofta that is very well appreciated in Palestine. Palestinian cuisine really appreciates and celebrates Tahini, and as such I chose this version. Also included in the video below.
Both were absolutely delicious, and I will definitely be making Omayah’s Kofta often. The pomegranate adds a very good flavour to the Kofta, cutting through the meat nicely. The overall dish is beautiful too. But my heart remains very Palestinian and my favorite remains the one in Tahini. Which one is your favorite way to cook Kofta.
I really would love to hear from you how you make Kofta and your favorite Kofta dish, this is really us sharing here so we can all learn and become more aware of Levantine cuisine, so do let me know if I missed anything and inform me if there is another Kofta dish out there that I am not aware of.
Look forward to hearing your thoughts..
- Introducing Ramadan Special 2019
- Comparing & Contrasting Palestinian & Syrian Versions of Fattet Makdoos
- Comparing & Contrasting Palestinian & Syrian Versions of Maqloobeh
- Kofta Bil Tahineh Recipe
- Fattet Makdoos Recipe
- Fattet Fool Akhdar Recipe
- Fattet Djaj Recipe
- Check out Omayah’s post on this link