Beef Kofta Kababs with Tzatziki

Beef Kofta Kababs with Tzatziki pita bread tomatoes on skewers
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Cinnamon, cumin, oregano and cumin give our garlicky beef kofta recipe it’s bold flavor and heady spice. Just add hummus and lots of homemade tzatziki for dipping.  

Beef Kofta—Party Food? Or ULTIMATE Party Food?

We fell in love with this generously-spiced beef kofta recipe a few years ago, when we were feeling a little overwhelmed and under-nourished. Funny how those two things so often go hand in hand, isn’t it? Bringing friends and family together around the dinner table is what The Modern Proper is all about, but sometimes the logistics of it all can get to us (yes, even us!). After a long week, we hear the siren song of take-out and Netflix. But the thing is, if we can muster the energy to make a simple meal and invite a few friends over, the effort is always, always rewarded. Nourishing the body, in the company of good friends, is to also nourish the soul. And this easy beef kofta recipe makes the perfect centerpiece for a casual dinner party. You could even outsource the side dishes to your friends! People always want to know what they can contribute, so why not give everyone a dish assignment? You cover the kofta, get the table set, and let them do the rest. 

A Garden’s Worth of Herbs Make for the Best Beef Kofta Kebabs, Ever. 

Do you ever stand in the herb section of the bulk aisle and—when no one is looking—sniff the more exotic herbs and spices, wondering what you could make with them? “When will I get to use sumac?” you ask yourself. Well, friend, today’s the day! Kofta kebabs are all about the spices. In addition to salt and pepper, we spice the ground beef with: 

  • Rosemary
  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • Sumac 
  • Cinnamon
6 beef kofta skewers on a plate with parsley

Finger Foods, FTW! 

Now that your amazing protein is on the table—those gorgeous beef kofta skewers—the rest is simple. In true Mediterranean feasting style we like to add and add and add to the table, and when you think you have enough dishes, add some more! Then, when you actually have enough, add a bunch of wine and dig in! Sit and talk and eat and talk some more. Then keep eating. These side dishes are meant to be simple simple simple. You can make them yourself, use store-bought, or when your friends ask what they can bring, assign them one or two of the sides. People love to help! Why not take them up on it? We love to serve beef kofta with: 

  • Lots of hummus. Make it yourself (here’s our recipe!) or buy it.
  • A simple salad of onion, tomatoes, cucumbers and oil.
  • A large hunk of fresh feta. 
  • Olives.
  • Pita bread! Just warm it in the oven before serving. 
  • Tzatziki Sauce. OK this one we really think you should DIY—it’s easy, and homemade tastes so much better.
Beef Kofta Kababs with Tzatziki pita bread tomatoes on skewers on a plate

Beef Kofta, Two Ways.

This kofta recipe is all about having a heavy hand with the herbs and spices. Once you’ve made the spiced meat mixture, and formed the skewers, you’ll have a decision to make! To grill, or not to grill. You can grill them for a lovely smokey flavor, or bake them in the oven for ease. Either way, they’ll be delicious. If you can, make the beef kofta mixture a day ahead of time so that the flavors can meld. Here’s how to make beef kofta: 

  1. Grate onion! This one of our favorite tricks ever—we’ve been known to mix grated onion into ground beef for burgers, even. Using your food processor to grate the onion is super fast, but a box grater works, too. After you grate the onion, wrap the onion pulp in a towel and give it a good squeeze to get rid of excess liquid. 
  2. Make the kofta mixture. Use your hands to blend the ground beef, grated onion, garlic, pepper, salt, marjoram, rosemary, cumin, oregano, sumac and cinnamon. 
  3. Shape the kofta! If you’re going to cook the kofta in the oven, you can skip the skewers and just mold the beef kofta mixture into oval-shaped patties, or even into a more traditional meatball shape. 
  4. Cook! Grill, or bake in an oven, until the beef is entirely cooked through. 
  5. Serve! With all the trimmings. 

Tools You’ll Need: 

  • A large bowl for mixing. 
  • A box grater or food processor. 
  • Skewers. 
  • Sharp knife and cutting board, as always!

Meatballs: Not Just a Spaghetti Topper Anymore.

We’re going to let you in on a little secret—kofta basically just means “spiced meatball”. And we’re really into meatballs. They’re easy, delicious and bite-sized—perfect for a party, or for feeding little mouths. They’re a terrific blank slate, and we love to think outside the box and flavor them with all kinds of fun herbs and spices. Every cuisine has a version of meatballs, and we love them all. Here are a few of our go-to meatball recipes: 

Beef Kofta Kababs with Tzatziki pita bread tomatoes on skewers

Host with the Most! 

Whether you serve our kofta kebabs as part of a Mediterranean feast for ten of your closest friends, or just as a quick weeknight dinner to mix up your routine, we hope this recipe is a hit for you! Let us know how it turns out! Snap a photo, and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

Beef Kofta Kababs with Tzatziki

Serves 4

Kofta

2 lb ground beef
1/2 onion, grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp sumac (optional)
1/2 tsp cinnamon

For serving

flat leaf parsley
fresh feta
hummus
tzatziki
cucumbers
tomatoes
red onions
olive oil
pita bread

Method

Grill Method

  1. Heat grill to medium high heat.
  2. Run the onions through a food processor fit with the grating attachment, or grate them by hand. Lay the grated onion on a paper towel and squeeze it to wring out any excess liquid.
  3. Combine the ground beef, onion, garlic, pepper, salt, marjoram, rosemary, cumin, oregano, sumac and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Mix the meat and spices together using your hands. Meat can be cooked right away, but it will taste better if it has time to sit. You can even prep the beef kofta mixture a day ahead and refrigerate it until you’re ready to cook.
  4. Using one hand to mold the meat and the other to hold the skewer, pack about ½ cup of meat around the end of each skewer.
  5. Lay the meat on the preheated, oiled grill and cook until cooked through, rotating the skewers with tongs every 2-3 minutes, for a total of 8-10 mins.

Baked Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Follow steps 2-4 above.
  3. Arrange kofta on a lightly greased or lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, turning half way through.

Note: If baking, skewers are optional.

**Serve the kofta skewers hot with warm pita, hummus, tzatziki sauce, fresh feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, sliced red onions and whatever else you can dream of.