Kafta Kabob: Grilling Up Middle Eastern Flavors

Kafta kabob, a savory delight that traces its origins back through centuries, embodies simplicity as well as complexity in taste.

Today, we’ll explore everything about one of our most popular dishes so that you can recreate it in your own kitchen like a Middle Eastern chef!

Origins of Kafta Kabob

Kafta kabob, also known as kofta kebab, has historical roots in the Middle East. The dish’s origins can be traced back to the region, and variations of similar minced meat dishes exist in various Middle Eastern cuisines.

The exact origins of kafta kabob are subject to some debate, but it’s believed that the Persians created the dish and introduced it to the Arab countries. 

Then, Arabian conquests spread the dish throughout Asia, North Africa, and beyond. The exchange of cultural practices, ingredients, and cooking techniques during historical conquests and trade routes contributed to the diversity and spread of this dish across different regions.

The word “kafta” comes from the Persian word “kūfta,” which means “to grind.” This etymological connection highlights the central aspect of the dish: minced or ground meat.

But what is kafta kabob exactly? Well, it’s a skewer of seasoned ground meat, typically lamb or beef, shaped into cylinders and grilled. It can be eaten directly from the stick or added to a pita bread.

People sometimes get confused by gyros and kabobs because they are both skewered meat dishes popular in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Gyros are typically made from thinly sliced meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie, while kabobs are typically made from ground meat, skewered and grilled or pan-fried. Besides, gyros originated in Greece, while kabobs have their roots in Middle Eastern and Central Asian cuisine.

The point is that kafta kabob is one of the best Middle Eastern foods, adored by local and global people alike, so here you’ll find everything you need to enjoy this delicious dish too. 

The Perfect Beef Kafta Kabob Recipe

To create a delicious Middle Eastern dish like beef kafta kabob, both aromatic and savory, you need to know the essential ingredients and understand the importance of the spice blend it requires.

So, here we’ll share with you a beef kafta kabob recipe that ensures an authentic experience of Middle Eastern flavors.


  • 2 pounds ground beef 
  • 1 medium onion, finely grated or minced
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced or grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin 
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground coriander 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 12 wooden skewers


  1. In a bowl, combine the ground beef, onion, parsley, garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, salt, and pepper.
  2. Using your hands, blend the ingredients ensuring the spices coat the meat uniformly.
  3. Shape the mixture into elongated oval-shaped forms around the skewers, ensuring they adhere firmly. 
  4. For enhanced flavor, cover the skewered meat and allow it to marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  5. Then, preheat your grill to medium-high heat and place the skewered kafta kabobs onto it for 10-15 minutes, rotating occasionally, until cooked through.
  6. Remove them from the grill, let rest for a few minutes, and serve.

Note: You can experiment by adding different spices or herbs such as mint, sumac, or additional regional spices.

Useful Tips and Grilling Techniques

Here you have some valuable tips and grilling techniques to achieve juicy and tasty kabobs:

1. Choose the right meat, as the type of meat will impact the flavor and texture of your kafta kabobs. Ground beef and lamb are the most common choices. Lamb offers a richer flavor, while beef provides a leaner option.

2. Use wooden skewers and soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before threading the meat to prevent them from burning during grilling.

3. Proper shaping and threading are important for preventing kabobs from falling apart on the grill. Therefore, make sure that the oval-shaped patties are tightly packed around the skewers.

4. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat before grilling the kabobs to ensure even cooking and prevent the meat from sticking to the grill grates. 

5. If you grill kabobs over high heat, the meat may get dry. The internal temperature should reach 160°F.

6. Direct heat is preferable for kafta kabobs. So, place the skewers directly over the heat source for even cooking.

7. After removing the kabobs from the grill, let them rest for 5-10 minutes before serving to allow the juices to redistribute and, thus, achieve tender and flavorful kabobs. 

Traditional Serving and Variations

Pairing kafta kabob can complement its savory essence with a harmonious blend of flavors and textures.

Traditional Serving Options

  • Pita Bread: This is a soft flatbread perfect for scooping up kabobs. You can prepare a pita kabob by wrapping your kafta kabob in warm pita bread.
  • Rice Pilaf: It’s a fluffy rice dish seasoned with herbs and spices.
  • Hummus: This “addictive” creamy dip is made from chickpeas, tahini, garlic, and lemon juice.
  • Baba Ghanoush: A smoky dip made from roasted eggplant, tahini, garlic, and lemon juice.
  • Tabbouleh: This is a refreshing salad made with bulgur wheat, tomatoes, cucumbers, and mint.
  • Couscous: A small, steamed pasta made from semolina flour.

Condiments and Dips

  • Tahini Sauce: A classic Middle Eastern accompaniment made from sesame paste, lemon juice, and garlic.
  • Tzatziki: A yogurt-based sauce made with cucumber, garlic, dill, and lemon juice. 
  • Sumac: A sour and citrusy spice made from the dried berries of the sumac plant.
  • Za’atar: A Middle Eastern herb blend made from thyme, oregano, sumac, and sesame seeds.

Beverage Pairing

  • Herbal Teas or Mint Infusions: Complementing the meal with these beverages help cleanse the palate between bites.

Exploring Cultural Fusions and Variations

  • Kabob and Curry: Kabobs and curry are two popular dishes from different traditions that can be paired together. The spicy undertones of the curry greatly complement the savory flavors of the kabobs.
  • Mexican Kafta Kabob: You can add Mexican flavors by serving your kabobs with tortillas, guacamole, salsa, and sour cream. 
  • Kafta Kabob Salad: You can experience a refreshing contrast by serving a vibrant salad with crisp greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and a tangy vinaigrette.
  • Kafta Kabob Burger: Form the ground meat into patties and grill or pan-fry to create a delicious kafta burger.

Now It’s Time to Enjoy

We’ve provided you with all the knowledge and tips you need to prepare and enjoy this classic dish of Middle Eastern cuisine.

If you find yourself in the Atlanta metropolitan area, make a stop at Pita Corner! An authentic kabob place located in Lawrenceville, just a short distance from Atlanta. Our restaurant offers delightful kafta kabob, alongside a great variety of side dishes. Come savor the flavors of our delicious menu!

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