A kafta is a group of meatballs or meatloaf dishes found in Indian, South Caucasian, Middle Eastern, Balkan, and Central Asian subcontinent cuisines. Kaftas consist of the purest form of pickled or ground meatballs, usually beef, chicken, lamb, or pork, mixed with spices or onions.
Kaftas are typically made from lamb, beef, mutton, or chicken in the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East. At the same time, Greek, Cypriot, and Balkan versions may use pork, beef, lamb, or a combination of the three. Ultimately, the recipe is highly customizable depending on the cook’s preference.
There are also vegetarian variants known as hortokeftedes in Greece and Cyprus, which are often consumed during times of fasting such as Lent. This is because devote followers often refrain from eating meat during the time of Lent.
About Lebanese Kafta
The meat is often combined with other ingredients, such as rice, bulgur, vegetables, or eggs, to create a smooth paste. Most recipes make their kaftas by grilling, frying, steaming, poaching, or baking, the meat. Kaftas are sometimes made from fish or vegetables rather than red meat. In North Africa, the Mediterranean, the Balkans and India there are many variants of this dish. They can be made into patties, meatballs or shapes similar to cigars.
According to several studies, old recipes (included in some of the earliest known Arabic cookbooks) usually concern seasoned lamb wrapped in orange balls, and glazed with egg yolk and sometimes saffron. This approach has been taken to the West, and is called “gilding” or “endoring.”
Just like many recipes, kafta has been proliferated all around the world and now appears in many different variations. Through the years, it remained to be a staple food in Lebanon. For more international recipes, click here.
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