Cooking Kefta (Middle Eastern spiced meatballs)

With Our Featured cook: Leon 

Makes 4 to 6 servings or about 20 meatballs


  • Ground lamb or beef, or a mixture of the two — 2 pounds/around 900 grams
  • 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 1-2 hours to allow the flavours 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.

Here is some interesting trivia about this dish: Spiced meatballs are common in one form or another from Morocco in the west through the Middle East (kefta or kufta), to Greece (keftedes), Turkey (köfte), Armenia (kyufta), Iran (kufteh, or koofteh) and all the way to India (kofta) in the east. All names for these little balls of wonder derive from the Persian verbkuftan, which means “to grind.”
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