That's not what it's called, but what else should I call it? Kufta? Khufta? Kofta? I don't even know how to spell it in English, but I guess no one else does, either, because I've seen all of these spellings while trying to figure out how to make it. Anyway...my husband has wanted me to make this for four years. For four freaking years, he's grumbled that he wanted me to make him his favorite dish that his mother used to make. Are you fucking kidding me? How daunting is that? To try to replicate her recipe without having it? Without having her show me how to make it I was terrified of it being a disaster. Yeah, he loves my steaks and ginger chicken and fish, but how could I ever meet his expectations for his favorite food?
I put it off for as long as I could, begging for patience, explaining my fear of wasting food. His patience was not infinite. He could not wait for us to be able to afford to either visit his parents or bring them here. Last year, he found a video on YouTube that he wanted me to try to use to make it. Eleven months later, I finally did.
It was awesome.
I took a white onion and a small clump of parsley and threw it in the food processor until it was pretty much mush. I dumped it into a big bowl with a pound of Butcher Box ground beef and a tablespoon of "Seven Spice." To make sure it was mixed evenly, I threw on some food-safe gloves and mixed it with my hands.
I pulled out my 13x9 Pyrex dish and made an even layer of the meat mixture across the bottom. Next comes a layer of fried potatoes. If you have a veggie slicer, it is awesome for this because it ensures the nice, even slices. It took me three batches of potatoes in the frying pan to get them done. I only used two potatoes, but they were pretty big.
After the layer of potatoes, there is a layer of sliced tomatoes. I used a big ol' beefsteak, so I only needed one. The last thing I needed was the sauce. I put 1.5 cups of water in my Pyrex cup, added half a small can of tomato paste, half a tablespoon of beef stock concentrate, another tablespoon of Seven Spice, a few pinches of Falksalt, and I mixed the hell out of it until the pastes were dissolved. The spices wanted to float, so I had to be pretty quick about pouring it over everything in the pan.
I baked it in an oven preheated to 350. It took about an hour to cook, but ovens vary. You always want to use a digital probe thermometer to check meat temps. Insert it kind of sideways through the center of the meat patty, so that the probe isn't hitting the bottom of the pan, but a good amount of it is in the meat. Ground meat should read 165 or higher.
This dish is awesome with rice or a good, fresh pita bread. My hubby and I actually live a few blocks away from the best bakery in the whole city for pita bread. Everyone loves it and many Arab stores around Kansas City sell their bread. So, we had rice the first night, then ate the leftovers with bread. I like to put a little olive oil and an herb mix my husband brought home that's mostly thyme and sesame seeds.
Read the directions on your rice. Different types need different amounts of water. Don't mix types of rice unless they take the same volume of water and absorb it at the same rate.
I put the rice in the pan first, then a drizzle of olive oil, and a pinch of Falksalt, the only salt I use in my kitchen. Mix it thoroughly so that all of the rice is coated in oil. Some people say it doesn't matter because the oil floats in the boiling water, but I really think it helps to keep the rice from sticking. Not so much with pasta, but I can tell a difference in rice with or without oil.
I use a glass lid so that I can see into the pan. Once I can barely see water boiling up through the disgusting tunnels made in the rice, I remove it from the burner and let it rest for fifteen to twenty minutes before stirring it with a fork.
Other shapes and variations
Kufta comes in many shapes. Some people make it into little logs or meatballs. Sometimes, Kufta will even be kabobs and cooked over a direct flame or coals. It also doesn't have to be ground beef. It can be lamb, chicken, or mutton, too.
I've made this twice now and I did it just a little differently the second time. The first time, I actually used one large onion because the video showed two small onions and I couldn't find any that were the same size. Sweet Cheesus, that was way too much fucking onion. My husband gets really bad onion farts. Like, I have woken up in the middle of the night gagging from the powerful gas this man can produce. I tried to get him to take Beano, but he hates taking pills and since it didn't fix his veggie/carb farts entirely, he refused to take them anymore. We tend to not eat beans, I usually avoid cooking with onions, and I try to keep Brussels sprouts to a max of twice a month.
A good fix for onion farts in my house is shallots. They are smaller, so I use less of them. They also aren't as strong and don't seem to react in his gut in the same way. I ALWAYS have shallots in my kitchen. I use them mostly for sauces but now I also use them for kofta. Instead of one large onion, I use two whole shallots. The flavor was great and we were able to sleep peacefully.
*****Note: Again, no pics this week because I'm short on time to make space in my Dropbox and busy gathering papers for Immigration. Wish me luck on getting to keep my husband here. I really don't want to have to move to Palestine if, for some reason, they decide my honey of four years can't stay. I'll try to add photos in a few weeks.