Kefta(Middle Eastern spiced meatballs)

4 to 6 servings, or about 20 meatballs


  • Ground lamb or beef, or a mixture of the two — 2 pounds
  • Onion, minced — 1
  • Fresh parsley or mint, finely chopped — 1/2 bunch
  • Ground cumin — 1 tablespoon
  • Cinnamon — 2 teaspoons
  • Allspice (optional) — 1 teaspoon
  • Salt and pepper — to season
  • Oil — 1/4 cup


  1. Place the ground beef or lamb, onion, herbs, spices, salt and pepper in a large bowl and knead together well. Wrap in plastic and chill for 1 to 2 hours to allow the flavors to mingle and make the meat easier to handle.
  2. Form the meat mixture into balls, patties or ovals the size of a small egg.
  3. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium flame and, working in batches, sauté the meatballs until browned on all sides and cooked through. Browned meatballs can also be finished in a 350ºF oven.
  4. Serve as is or in pita bread as a sandwich with tzatziki sauce.

Kefta Variations

  • Keftedes (Greece): Add some breadcrumbs and a little red wine to the meat mixture.
  • Köfte (Turkey): Add some breadcrumbs and form the meat into a sausage shape on skewers. Oil the meat well and grill over hot coals.
  • Kofta (India): Use ground lamb. Simmer the meatballs in a curry sauce.
  • Before frying, you can roll the kefta in some flour and shake off the extra to help them brown.
  • Experiment with different seasonings: coriander, cayenne, sesame seeds.
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