I'm not one to brag, but the Lebanese just know how to do it right when it comes to food. Fattoush, hummus, shish kabobs, stuffed grape leaves. I can go on and on. Well, one of the most delicious staple dishes that is a personal favorite is called kafta. The lucky ones out there already know what this is and have perhaps had it before. Those who haven't been so fortunate are probably saying, "kafwhat?"
Kafta is a meat mixture composed of beef or lamb, parsley, white or red onion and some spices. If I've peaked your interest, let me keep on going. To simplify it to the average everyday American, kafta is akin to a meatball, but with less ingredients! There is an added advantage kafta brings to the table though. It's unbelievably versatile.You can take the kafta base and make a dozen different dishes. You can skewer them and grill them. You can saute them in a little bit of olive oil and drizzle some lemon over top of them. You can add some tomatoes and potatoes and enjoy with some rice. There are just so many ways to utilize this mixture. The method I'm going to show you is by far the easiest and makes for a quick, delicious dinner in under half an hour.
We're going to cook it in pita bread. Cooking the kafta in the bread gives you a crispy edge and a chewy, moist middle. You can dip the bread in some laban (Lebanese yogurt) and have at it. It is one of those dishes, I wouldn't mind eating everyday.
You can use either ground beef or ground lamb to make kafta. It's all about personal preference. We prefer beef because it's less gamey. Add the meat to a bowl.
Chop the onions into a small dice. You can use a knife or food processor to do this. Also, you can use red or white onion. We switch it up every now and then. This time, we're using red.
Chop the parsley until fine. Again, you can use a processor knife, whatever is easier for you.
You'll also need some salt.
Some freshly ground black pepper. Makes a difference.
Some seven spice.
Some good pita bread will also be needed. Not the thick ones. Try to find the authentic thin ones.
Combine the onions and parsley with the meat. Add the salt, pepper and seven spice.
Mix until thoroughly combined.
Smear heaping tablespoons onto the inside of the pita and spread into a layer. Fold the other half over and place it on a baking sheet lined with greased aluminum. Continue to do this until you fill your baking sheet in a single layer.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 10-15 minutes or until the inside is no longer raw and the outside is golden brown. The moisture from the meat may make the bread wrinkly on some of them. No biggie.
Serve immediately with some laban and fries. Enjoy!
See how my mom does it:
- 3 lbs ground chuck or ground lamb
- 2 large white or red onions, chopped
- 3 bunches flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 2 ½ teaspoons salt
- 2 ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 ¼ teaspoon seven spice
- Good thin Pita bread
Chop the onions into a small dice and chop the parsley until fine. An easy method is to chop the onions and parsley in a food processor until desired size.
Add the parsley and onions mixture to a mixing bowl.
Add in the salt, black pepper and seven spice.
Mix it thoroughly and taste a small piece to adjust seasoning if necessary.
Open up your pita so it's open faced. Smear two heaping kitchen tablespoons of the meat mixture onto the pita.
Bake at 350°F on a baking sheet lined with greased aluminum for about 10-15 minutes or until the meat is cooked inside, but the outside is golden brown.
Enjoy immediately with some laban and fries!