Looking for a mouthwatering and easy-to-make recipe? My chicken kafta is a must-try! Packed with aromatic spices and fresh herbs, these patties or kebabs are perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or a weekend barbecue.
What is Kafta?
Kafta, also spelled kofta, is a popular Middle Eastern dish made from ground meat, usually beef or lamb, that is combined with various spices, herbs, and onions. The mixture is shaped into small cylindrical or round patties and then grilled, baked, or even pan-fried with a little oil.
The mixture can also be formed onto metal or bamboo skewers before grilling. When formed on a skewer, the kafta is also technically called a kebab (or kebob depending on the dialect). The meat can also be formed into small balls and added to Kofta Meatball Soup.
Kafta is often served with lemon tahini sauce, Lebanese rice, homemade pita or Taboon (flatbread), Lebanese potatoes, and traditional tomato and cucumber salad like the one I have in my book, Seed to Table or a fattoush salad. You can also serve it with homemade hummus or mutabbal (roasted eggplant dip).
For a really healthy meal, make “rice bowls” using brown rice or cauliflower rice as the base and layer with the grilled kafta, salad, pickled red onion, pickled cauliflower, feta cheese, fresh mint and some mint yogurt sauce or garlic sauce (Toum). Try it with my Fiesta Salad recipe too.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Growing up in a Middle Eastern household, Kafta or Kofta was a regular occurrence. Typically, it’s made with beef and/or lamb, and that’s what you’ll find at Middle Eastern restaurants. This recipe is a family favorite and I love it because it’s:
- A healthier and delicious twist on the traditional recipe
- An incredibly easy recipe
- Perfect for a busy weeknight; can be made in less than 30 minutes;
- Flavorful and packed with protein
This recipe uses pantry and fridge staples and comes together in no time. For substitutions, check out the next section.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Ground Chicken: You can certainly use ground turkey, ground beef (Beef Kofta), ground lamb, or a combination. You can also make this recipe vegan by using a vegan minced meat substitute.
- Baharat: I know that most folks probably don’t have Baharat (Levantine Spice Mix) in their pantries, but don’t let that stop you. You can use a combination of equal parts cumin, coriander and cinnamon to achieve a similar flavor profile. If you love to prepare Middle Eastern, Lebanese or Levantine food, I suggest you pick up some Baharat from your local Middle Eastern store.
- Chili flake: I personally like to use Aleppo pepper flakes, but you can use any chili flake you like or leave it out altogether.
- Garlic Powder: I like using garlic powder in this recipe because it’s easier to incorporate in the mix, but you can totally use fresh grated garlic too.
- Parsley: This is quite traditional. I recommend using flat-leaf Italian parsley but you can use the curly variety too if that’s what you had on hand.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
How to Make this Chicken Kafta Recipe
Step 1. Mix: In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, onion, fresh parsley, spices, salt and pepper. Combine really well. The mixture may be a little sticky and that’s ok.
Step 2. Form: Form the ground chicken mixture into oblong shapes. Don’t make them too thick. 1 inch (2cm) thickness is ideal. You can freeform them, or form them onto a skewer.
Step 3. Grill: Preheat your BBQ or grill pan on medium-high heat. Spray or brush on some neutral oil and grill the chicken kebabs for 4-6 minutes on each side until cooked through. The internal temperature should be at least 165F.
- Bake: If you don’t have a BBQ or grill pan, you can bake your kafta kebabs on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- Don’t overcook: It’s really easy to overcook ground chicken which will make it really dry. Invest in a meat thermometer so you know exactly when to remove the kofta from the grill.
- Food processor? I don’t recommend using a food processor to make the meat mixture as it will be very gummy.
- Mixture too wet? Depending on the moisture level in your mixture, it might be a little too wet and difficult to form into patties. Feel free to use a tablespoon or two of bread crumbs to help it come together.
- Make kebabs: If you plan to grill the kafta on skewers on a coal or gas grill, I recommend you soak the wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes before forming the kebab to help reduce the chance of burning the skewers.
Yes, they are the same thing. The spelling changes depending on the dialect of the speaker. Kafta (or kofta) is an anglicized version of the Arabic word.
Not exclusively. Kafta is a dish enjoyed and cooked by many Middle Eastern peoples. The word comes from the Persian “küfte” or “köfte” which means finely chopped meat.
You can definitely make the chicken kofta mixture 1 day ahead of time. Another possibility is to make the mixture and freeze it for future use. The uncooked mixture will last in the freezer for 6 months. All you’ll need to do then is defrost, form and grill, which saves you time especially on a busy weeknight.
Store leftover cooked chicken kofta kebabs in a container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can reheat them quickly in the microwave or a toaster oven. Note that when reheated they will be dryer so make sure to serve with them with a nice sauce.
If you make this Chicken Kafta Kebabs recipe or any other main dishes on Urban Farm and Kitchen, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe.
Chicken Kafta Kebabs
- 1 lbs Ground chicken
- 1 Medium onion - very finely chopped
- ¼ cup Fresh parsley - Finly chopped
- 1 tablespoon Baharat spice mix - or 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon coriander, 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Chili Flakes - Optional
- Kosher salt and black pepper - start with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. You may need more.
- Bread crumbs - As needed
- Mix: In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground chicken, chopped onion, fresh parsley, spices, garlic powder, chili flakes, salt and pepper. Combine really well. The mixture may be a little sticky and that’s ok. At this point, I recommend you fry up a tablespoon of the mixture and taste it. Adjust the seasoning to your liking.
- Form: Wet your hands with a little cold water, it will help you form the kafta without getting the mixture stuck to your hands. Form the kafta mixture into oblong shapes. If you are having difficulty forming the mix into logs, add 2-4 tablespoons of breadcrumbs to the mix. Don’t make them too thick. 1 inch (2cm) thickness is ideal. You can freeform them by hand, or form them directly onto a skewer.
- Grill: Preheat your BBQ or grill pan on medium-high heat. Spray or brush on some neutral oil (don’t use olive oil) and grill the kafta for 4-6 minutes on each side until cooked through. The internal temperature should be at least 165F.
- Serve: Serve the grilled kafta with some rice, pita bread, salad of choice, hummus or yogurt.