Grilled Kafta w/ Traditional Salad & Tahini Sauce (Tarator)

Charcoal grilled meats and vegetables of all kinds are a traditional Sunday fare for the Lebanese.  Every Sunday, the grill comes out … for everyone.  Aside from the cubed and skewered garlic and olive oil marinated chicken and barely spiced lamb, kafta comes to mind.  What can I tell you about good Lebanese kafta?  It is just delicious!  You can use all lamb, or beef, or a combination of the two.  However, as lamb is much more traditionally and widely used in Lebanese cuisine, I will be using it.  Besides, to me, nothing comes close to the incredible flavor of lamb.


2 lbs ground Lamb
1 large white Onion – finely diced
2 cups Italian Parsley – finely chopped
1 tablespoon Salt
1 tablespoon Allspice
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

In a large bowl, place the ground lamb with the onions, parsley, salt, allspice, cinnamon, and extra virgin olive oil.  Don’t overwork the meat, but mix well to combine everything together.  Place the kafta in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight to allow the flavors to marry.  I usually make my kafta the day before and leave it in the refrigerator; it makes for a much more flavorful and delicious dish.

When you are ready to grill your kafta, take it out of the refrigerator and shape it as you wish.  You make shape it into patties, round meatballs (great for stews), or long tubes to skewer.  I did the latter.  I always have a little bit of extra virgin olive oil on the side to “wet” my hands with, while I am shaping the kafta.  I highly suggest placing the kafta back in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes or so, since it has gotten warm from the shaping process.  This step will allow the meat to “set” on the skewer.

Now we are ready to grill.  For best results, please use a charcoal grill; however, I chose to use a grill pan, as it is much easier to photograph without all that smoke.  After you grill the kafta on all sides, which shouldn’t take long, place on a serving dish, and cover with a piece of aluminum foil, as the meat needs to rest for a few minutes.  HOWEVER, if you wish to perform this task the traditional way, then you must have a piece of Lebanese pita bread open and ready.  Lebanese pita is very very thin, unlike most other pitas found at the grocery store.  Place the grilled kafta on the one layer and cover with the other piece of pita.  All the juices that drip, should go into this delicious loaf of Lebanese bread that will be used to consume the kafta at the table.


1/2 large white Onion – sliced
1 teaspoon Sumac
2 tablespoons Italian Parsley – finely chopped



Slice the onion and place in a bowl along with the sumac and the parsley.  Mix well and allow to sit for a bit, while you make the tahini sauce or the tarator.  Tarator is more of a condiment that is used with anything from fish to vegetables to meat.  It is a very easy sauce to make.


3 tablespoons Tahini – Sesame Paste
1 cup Water
1 Lemon – juiced
1 large Garlic clove – mashed or grated
1 teaspoon Salt

In a small bowl, combine the tahini, water, lemon juice, grated or mashed garlic, and salt.  Mix well.  Plate the kafta, the kafta salad, and the tahini sauce as you like and serve.  You may want to make a kafta sandwich by placing the kafta on an open pita, add the salad and some tomatoes to it, and finish with a healthy drizzle of tarator.  It is so delicious!


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