Kofta: Spiced Ground Beef Kebab Recipe


Steven Depolo / Flickr

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 60 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
262 Calories
13g Fat
2g Carbs
33g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 262
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 17%
Saturated Fat 5g 26%
Cholesterol 101mg 34%
Sodium 127mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Protein 33g
Calcium 29mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Nearly every world cuisine features some kind of meatball dish and kofta is the Middle Eastern version. At its most basic, its a mixture of very finely ground beef, onions, herbs, and spices. The meat is formed into balls or, more commonly, cigar shapes, and either baked or grilled.

The term kofta and variations of the recipe can be found throughout the Middle East as well as parts of Europe and India. The Middle Eastern versions are most often made with lamb, beef or even chicken. In the Mediterranean, pork might be used and vegetarian options are found in India.

Kofta kabob refers to cooking the meat on skewers, either in the oven or on a grill. It's usually served off the skewer on a bed of rice although sometimes you'll see the skewers left on for presentation. But kofta in the non-kabob form may be cooked in a sauce, most often a spicy curry in Indian cuisine.

The skewered version tends to be served for dinner but often kabobs are considered fast food and are served inside a pita or flatbread for a quick, portable meal.

Unlike most meatballs, kofta recipes call for extra finely ground beef. Ask your butcher or the meat department to run the beef through the grinder one or two extra times. It makes a difference in the recipe–the meat will be smooth and have a softer texture. If you're buying pre-packaged ground beef and the butcher can't do another grind, try pulsing it a few times in the food processor for the same effect.

Although the basic kofta recipe is quite plain, there is a multitude of variations. Different herbs and spices, of course as well as the addition of rice, bulgur, or vegetables in with the meat.


  • 3 lbs ground beef (ground extra fine, if possible)
  • 1 large onion (peeled and diced)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley (chopped)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Finely chop the onion and parsley. Time-saving Tip: Use a food processor.

  2. Add the ground beef to a large bowl and stir in the onions and parsley.

  3. Season with salt and pepper.

  4. Form the beef mixture into small balls and place four or five balls onto a metal skewer.

  5. Shape the meat into a cigar shape on the skewer. Note: if you use wooden skewers, be sure to soak them in water for 30 minutes first to avoid them burning.

  6. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.

  7. Bake the skewers for 45 minutes.

  8. Or if grilling, grill for 20 to 25 minutes or until done.

  9. Serve over a bed of white rice.

Serving Suggestions:
Kofta is often served on flatbread (without skewers) or pita bread. It is also common to see it served on a hot dog bun.