Bold, spiced beef skewers, aka Kofta, make a delicious anytime meal. Easy enough for weeknights yet unique enough for company, this recipe is a true delight. Serve the crispy beef kofta skewers on a large platter with chewy naan, garlicky yogurt sauce, sliced cucumber, and tons of fresh herbs.
Watch How to Make Kofta
What is Kofta?
Kofta is a Middle-Eastern ground meat dish featuring a handful of warm spices, onion, and herbs. Depending on region and cooking technique, kofta can be found made as skewered logs, unskewed logs, patties or meatballs.
We opted for the more recognizable form—skewered logs—but feel free to form these however works best for you. When it comes to serving, Beef Kofta is often served with naan, yogurt-sauces, vegetables, and lots of fresh herbs.
Where is Kofta From?
Many assume kofta is strictly Middle Eastern, but kofta can actually be traced back to a variety of cuisines. It’s even credited for being the original meatball.
Some say Kofta traces back to the Persians who then passed it on to the Arabs. Kofta recipes can even be found in some of the earliest arabic cookbooks. From there, it’s likely that kofta was passed along trade routes to Greece, North Africa and Spain.
Historically kofta is made with ground beef, pork, chicken or lamb mixed with rice, bulgur or mashed lentil.
Greek or Balkin varieties tend to use a mix of ground meat. Alternatively, Indian kofta tends to made vegetarian using potatoes, paneer or even bananas and are served with a curry or gravy.
How to Make Kofta
- Cook the shallots until softened, then add the pine nuts and cook them until toasted. Add the spices and cook briefly to bloom them.
- Combine the shallot mixture with ground beef and fresh herbs.
- Form the beef mixture into logs then push a skewer lengthwise through each log.
- Preheat a cast-iron skillet, broiler or grill and cook the beef skewers until well-brown (basically charred) and cooked through.
How to Serve Kofta
The combination of beef, bold spices, garlic, shallot and fresh herbs makes for a filling and satisfying meat dish. Two kofta served with naan or rice, fresh vegetables, yogurt sauce and herbs can easily be a serving. If you don’t anticipate serving these with a starchy side dish, you may want to consider doubling the recipe if you’re serving four.
Serve Kofta with:
- Naan or rice
- Sliced cucumber
- Shredded cabbage dressed with olive oil and lemon juice
- Greek yogurt mixed with garlic and seasoned with salt and pepper. Tzatziki sauce would also be a great option.
- A lot of fresh herbs such as cilantro, parsley and mint
We like to pile the skewers on a large platter with all the fixings, that way everyone can make their own plate and enjoy the kofta however they prefer.
- Use onion and garlic instead of shallots and garlic.
- Serve with pita instead of naan.
- Try different a different type of ground meat.
- Swap the cayenne for red pepper flakes. Or skip the cayenne altogether if you aren’t a fan of heat.
- Serve slices of tomato and cucumber on the side with the naan and yogurt sauce.
We don’t recommend cooking these ahead of time—reheating cooked beef skewers tend to dry out the meat and make it tough. That being said, you can prepare and assemble the skewers up to 2 days ahead of time.
We tested this with a variety of ground beef fat percentages and found that 85% was the sweet spot. Anything leaner dries out significantly during the cooking. You can technically use a more lean ground beef, but we don’t recommend it.
Absolutely. If you need to keep this nut-free you can skip the pine nuts altogether.
Beef Kofta Kebab Platter
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 shallots, chopped (or ½ yellow onion)
- ⅓ cup pine nuts, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne, optional
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground clove
- 1 pound 85% lean ground beef
- ½ cup finely chopped parsley or cilantro
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint
- 8 wooden or metal skewers
- Zucchini Tzatziki
or Greek yogurt mixed with a bit of garlic, *see notes
- Shredded cabbage tossed with olive oil and lemon juice, *see notes
- Sliced cucumber
- Lots of herbs such as mint, cilantro and/or parsley
- Ground sumac sprinkled over platter
- Heat oil over medium heat in a large cast-iron skillet or nonstick skillet until shimmering. Add shallot and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 3 minutes.
- Add pine nuts and cook until starting to brown, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, coriander, cumin, paprika, ¾ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, cayenne, cinnamon, and cloves; cook 30 seconds.
- Transfer shallot mixture to a large bowl with beef, parsley and mint; mix to combine.
- Divide mixture into 8 even portions.
- Form each into a 5-inch-long log then push a skewer through the length of each log.
- Cook according to directions below using the stove, grill or broiler.
- Heat broiler to high with rack set 10-inches from element (middle rack). Arrange beef skewers on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil, turning every 3 minutes, until well-browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 145ºF (*see recipe notes below), 10–12 minutes.
- Preheat a 10- or 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium high heat for 5 minutes (just wipe out the skillet you used to cook the shallot and spices). Add 4 beef skewers and cook, turning every 2–3 minutes, until well charred and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the centers registers 145ºF (*see recipe notes below), about 8 minutes total. Transfer skewers to a platter and repeat cooking process with remaining 4 skewers.
- Preheat a grill to medium-high for 5–10 minutes; brush grill grate clean. Arrange beef skewers over grate and grill, turning every 2 minutes, until charred and an instant-read thermometer registers 145ºF (*see recipe notes below), about 6 minutes total.
To assemble a platter
- Arrange skewers on a large platter. Place a small bowl of yogurt sauce in the middle then arrange naan, shredded cabbage, cucumber, and fresh herbs around the rest of the platter. Sprinkle sumac over top.
This sponsored post is in partnership with the Iowa Beef Council. As always the thoughts, opinions, recipe, photos and content are all my own.