Thursday, November 2, 2017

Moroccan Beef Kefta with Tahini and Pomegranate

Kefta is traditionally a savoury meat mixture, often of beef or lamb, mixed with fragrant spices of cumin, paprika, and even a bit of cinnamon for some warmth. There are hundreds of varieties of meatballs – kofta in Arabic and ktsitsot in Hebrew – each with its own unique heritage and specific preparation. They can form into round meatballs, flat patties, thin fingers or more commonly into torpedo-shaped kebabs that are perfect for wrapping up inside of a pita or serving with any kind of warm flatbread. In this Moroccan-inspired version, the ground beef is seasoned with a combination of spices, finely chopped onion and fresh herbs. Although some recipes suggest adding breadcrumbs or eggs to bind the mixture, it's not wholly traditional. Chilled for an hour or so before cooking, the kofta can be grilled outdoors for 10-15 minutes over medium heat until just they're cooked through and beautifully golden brown, or sautéed in a frying pan on cooler evenings. Served with flatbread or with quinoa, couscous or crunchy cucumber and tomato salad plus a heaping bowl of tzatziki or cumin-yogurt sauce, Kefta are healthy, delicious and absolutely bursting with flavour.

The kefta are formed into torpedo-shaped patties with pointed ends

Sautéed in a nonstick frying pan on medium heat for about 15-20 minutes 
until the kefta are cooked through and golden brown

Moroccan Grilled Beef Kefta with Tahini Sauce & Pomegranate
Serves 4

2 lb ground minced lamb and beef
1 cup loosely packed chopped cilantro
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp sweet paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tbsp salt
1 cup finely chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp Harissa paste
1/3 cup pine nuts

Tahini Sauce:
2/3 cup light tahini paste
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 medium clove of garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp unsalted butter or ghee - optional
1 cup pomegranate seeds 
1 tbsp each of cilantro and pine nuts

Put all the kefta ingredients in a bowl and using your hands, mix everything together well. Shape into long, torpedo-like fingers, about 3-inches long and about 2 1/4 oz each, making sure to press the mixture together to ensure the kofta are tight and keep their shape. Arrange on a plate, cover with cling film and chill until you're ready to cook them, up to one day ahead.

For the sauce, whisk together the tahini paste, lemon juice, minced garlic, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 cup of water in a medium sized bowl. The sauce should be a bit runnier than honey, so add one or two tablespoons of extra water if needed, then cover and set aside.

To barbecue outdoors, preheat the grill to medium and cook the kefta for about 12-15 minutes, or until nicely browned all over but still lovely and juicy on the inside. If you like your meat more well done, continue cooking on the grill until your preferred level of doneness. 

To cook indoors, preheat oven to 425°F. Heat 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil in a large non stick frying-pan and sear the kefta in batches over high heat, making sure they're not bunched together. Sear them on all sides until golden brown, about 6-10 minutes for each batch for medium-rare. For medium or well-done, place the kefta on a baking tray and cook in the oven for another 2-4 minutes.

To finish, melt the ghee in a small saucepan and allow to brown a little, taking care that it doesn’t burn. Spoon the butter over the kofta as soon as they come out of the oven, or baste on the grill as the kefta are cooking. 

To serve, arrange the kefta on warm platter and drizzle with some of the Tahini Sauce, a sprinkle of fresh pomegranate seeds and garnish with extra cilantro and pine nuts. Serve while hot with any remaining sauce on the side.

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