Kofta Kebabs and Homemade Zaatar

Kofta Kebabs

After publishing the chicken kebab recipe, a reader asked for a beef kebab recipe, but not one made with chunks of meat but with spiced ground meat. I’m sure what he is asking for are kofta kebabs. This middle eastern kebab is typical street food made with ground beef and plenty of herbs and spices.
Here’s my version of kofta kebabs. Now be sure and taste a sample (microwaved) before you put the ground meat mixture on skewers. That way, it’s easy to punch up the flavor with more onion, spices, and herbs. 

Grilled kofta kebabs

Ingredients

8 long skewers  

2 pounds ground beef (I’ve used ground chuck or ground round)

1 small onion, grated 1/2 cup or so

3 cloves garlic, minced

1-1/2 teaspoons salt 

1 teaspoon ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

3/4 to 1 teaspoon each: dried oregano and basil

Palmful fresh mint, minced

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Handful fresh parsley, minced

Instructions 

Soak skewers, if using wooden, in water while preparing kofta.

In large bowl, gently mash beef with potato masher or wooden spoon to break up. Add remaining ingredients and mix gently until well combined.

This can be done several hours ahead.

Pinch off a little piece and microwave. Adjust seasonings if necessary.

Divide mixture into 8 pieces. 

Form each piece into a ball around the tip of each skewer. 

Flatten each one onto the skewer, making the kebabs about 4-5” long. Pinch the top and bottom edges to seal onto the skewer.  

Brush kebabs with olive oil.

Brush grill lightly with olive oil. 

Preheat to medium high, 375 degrees.
Grill kebabs until desired doneness, turning several times. 

Yield: 8 kebabs

I served mine with a side of tabouleh and toasted pita with zaatar.

Maybe you’d like to serve the kebabs with a dollop of tzatziki sauce and hummus.

Homemade zaatar

Zaatar is a spice blend with sumac and herbs, like oregano, thyme, salt and marjoram. Some recipes, like mine, call for sesame seeds.

Pita with Zaatar

I store mine in the freezer for longer shelf life. 

The sumac imparts a lemony flavor. Use this recipe as a guide. If you don’t like sesame, leave it out.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons ground sumac

1 tablespoon each: dried oregano, marjoram and thyme (if you can’t find marjoram, up the oregano to 1-1/2 tablespoons)

1/2 teaspoon salt

Sesame seeds to taste — start with a good teaspoon or so (optional)

Instructions

Just mix everything up together.

To use on pita bread, brush bread with olive oil and sprinkle on zaatar.

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