Sunday, September 4, 2011

Kefta, Kofta, Kafta?! A recipe for Moroccan Kefta

Moroccan Kefta Kebabs
I normally plan our dinners ahead of time by at least a day or two. It saves me the last minute scramble of figuring out what to make or trying to defrost and marinade meat in the span of an hour...that never turns out well ;-)

Last Friday I failed to plan ahead properly and I woke to the realization that our refrigerator was finally bare of leftovers and I had no dinner planned for the evening. I then proceeded to ignore the situation by getting out of bed, making breakfast, writing a blog post, and going to the gym - my usual routine. After I finished at the gym I knew that I couldn't put off dinner any longer and it was decision time.  So I went downstairs to peak in my deep freeze and ended up with a 1.5 pound tube of ground beef. "Anything can be made from ground beef", I said to myself. A quick search online, a memory from a scene in a past episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, and a desire to try something new and exotic, led me to Moroccan Kefta or ground beef kebabs.

If you watch the Real Housewives you'll recall a scene from a few weeks ago where Cathy hosts a goddess party to show off her Moroccan cuisine. She served Kefta and as I watched them eat I wanted some!

Kefta is ground beef mixed with spices and fresh herbs, shaped into balls or cylinders, skewered and grilled. It's called Kefta, Kofta, Kafta and tons of other different ways depending on the middle eastern/Mediterranean language you speak or country you are from.  I told Shawn I was making Moroccan food for dinner so it was Kefta on the menu!

I did some research online and came up with this recipe. It was a refreshingly different way to prepare and cook ground beef. I served my Kefta with a loaf of rustic, chewy bread and non-fat tzatziki. This is also a really healthy meal if you watch the fat content of the beef or use lamb, and use non-fat yogurt for the tzatziki like I did.

Moroccan Kefta calling my name :)

Moroccan Kefta
by Kaitlyn McFadden

Serves 5


  • 1.5 to 2 pounds of ground beef or lamb (I used beef)
  • 1 onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic 
  • 3 tbsp of finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp of finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp of ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of granular garlic
  • 1/2 tsp of soy sauce (I hate adding salt to ground meats as it dries them out)
  • 1/4 tsp of ginger
  • 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes or sriracha sauce (we like spicy so I increased this quite a bit)
  • Skewers - soaked in water if wooden

  1. Pulse onion and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Drain and squeeze out any excess liquid with paper towels. 
  2. Place the ground meat into a large bowl and mix all ingredients into the meat using your hands. Mix until just combined and the spices and herbs are evenly distributed, don't over handle the meat or it will become dense.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for at least an hour or more; preferably 6 to 8 hours.
  4. When ready to cook grab a handful of meat mixture with clean hands and form into a cylinder. Slide a skewer through the meat lengthwise. Continue until meat mixture is gone; I managed 5 skewers.
  5. Grill until meat is cooked thoroughly or to your preferred doneness. (I like my hamburger cooked thoroughly but my lamb cooked to medium)
  6. Serve with a garlicky sauce like tzatziki and fresh bread. 
Shawn digs into his Moroccan Kefta