The Washington Post

Kofta and Tahini Bake

Kofta and Tahini Bake 6.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Feb 4, 2019

Serve with vermicelli rice or plain long-grain rice.

To read the accompanying story, see: A new Palestinian cookbook’s challenge: Shedding light on a cuisine without a country.

Make Ahead: You'll make more Nine Spice Mix than is needed in this recipe; it can be stored in an airtight container for up to 6 months, and can be used on breads, in dips, pilaf dishes and eggs. The sauce for the leftover kofta and tahini bake will thicken in the refrigerator; stir before reheating gently on the stove top or in the oven.

6 - 8

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6-8 servings

  • For the kofta and potatoes
  • 1 3/4 pounds ground meat (beef, lamb or veal, or a combination)
  • 3 1/2 ounces pita bread (from two 6-inch pitas) OR white bread with crust removed, roughly torn
  • 1 medium tomato, cut into quarters
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small green chile pepper (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon Nine Spice Mix (see NOTES)
  • 2 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed well and cut into thick wedges
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted (see NOTES), for serving
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley, for serving
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, for serving
  • For the sauce
  • 1 cup tahini, stirred well
  • 1/2 cup plain, full-fat yogurt
  • 2 cups water, or more as needed
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or more as needed


For the kofta and potatoes: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a large roasting pan with aluminum foil (for easy cleanup). Place about one-quarter of the meat in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, soak the bread in enough water to cover it.

Combine the tomato, onion, garlic, chile pepper, if using, the cilantro, parsley, oil, salt and 1 tablespoon of the Nine Spice Mix in a food processor; pulse to form a loose paste.

Drain the bread, using your hands to squeeze out any excess moisture, then add the bread to the food processor and pulse until evenly distributed. Alternatively, you can finely chop or grate everything by hand and mix together with the bread, mashing with a spoon as you mix.

Pour the mixture over the portion of meat in the bowl; use your hands to mix until thoroughly incorporated. Add the remaining meat; mix very gently with your hands just until evenly distributed, being careful not to over-mix. Shape the meat mixture into about 15 elongated meatballs (4-inch kebabs, like short sausages).

Arrange those kofta meatballs and the potato wedges, flesh sides up, in the large roasting pan. Season the potatoes lightly with salt. Roast (top rack) for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they have started to brown. (The potatoes will not be cooked through.)

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Whisk together the tahini, yogurt, water, lemon juice and salt in a medium bowl; the sauce will be thin. Taste, and add more lemon juice and/or salt, as needed.

Remove the pan from the oven; use tongs to transfer the kofta meatballs and potatoes to a baking dish that's just large enough to hold them snugly, along with any pan juices. Try to arrange the pieces so that meat and potatoes alternate, and sit at different angles. Pour the sauce evenly over the pieces; if they are not mostly covered, pour in more water, as needed. Roast (middle rack) for 20 to 25 minutes, until the exposed meat and potatoes are browned on top.

Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving (the sauce will thicken), then, scatter with the toasted pine nuts, parsley and a light sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes.

NOTES: Toast the pine nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat for several minutes, shaking the pan to avoid scorching, until fragrant and lightly browned. Cool before using.

To make the Nine Spice Mix, combine 6 tablespoons dried allspice berries, six 3-inch cinnamon sticks, 3 tablespoons coriander seed, 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds (from a few pods), 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed, 10 whole cloves, 2 shards of mace and 1/2 of a crushed nutmeg in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Toast the mixture for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it does not scorch. Cool completely, then grind in a designated spice grinder or use a mortar and pestle. The yield is about 12 tablespoons; store leftovers from this recipe in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 6 months.

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Recipe Source

CORRECTION: A previously published version of this recipe mistakenly referred to Nice Spice Mix. It is the Nine Spice Mix. Adapted from “The Palestinian Table,” by Reem Kassis (Phaidon, 2017).

Tested by Jessica Weissman and Bonnie S. Benwick.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (based on 8): 520

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 27g 42%

Saturated Fat: 7g 35%

Cholesterol: 65mg 22%

Sodium: 1350mg 56%

Total Carbohydrates: 41g 14%

Dietary Fiber: 5g 20%

Sugar: 2g

Protein: 30g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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