Baked Kafta with Potato (Kafta bi Seniyah)

This is yet another wonderful dish from May Bsiu’s cookbook The Arab Table: Recipes and Culinary Traditions.It’s sort of a Middle Eastern version of lasagna using potatoes instead of pasta. Kafta (also spelled Kofta) are the ubiquitous Middle Eastern meatball, made with lamb or beef and served in a variety of ways.

I’ve adapted Bsisu’s recipe by substituting canned for fresh tomatoes and olive for vegetable oil. We served ours with a side of chickpea salad (from the same cookbook), but Bsisu recommends a simple green salad and flatbread.


2 pounds ground beef or lamb (we used beef)
1 cup finely chopped parsely
1 pound onions, minced
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, using you hands, until thoroughly mixed and smooth. Shape into flattened balls and refigerate while preparing the rest of the dish.

Kafta with Potatoes

2 – 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes with juice
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp olive oil
4 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1/2 pound onions, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
Kafta (recipe above)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

Drain the tomatoes, saving the juice. If necessary, add water to equal 1/2 cup total juice.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saute pan on high heat. Add potatoes and saute, turning halfway, till lightly browned.

Transfer to paper towel to drain.

Add remaining oil to skillet and heat. Add onions and saute till soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute another 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.

Dissolve the tomato paste in the saved tomato juice and pour it over the cooked onions. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 15 minutes until the onions have melted slightly into the sauce.

Meanwhile, spread the Kafta in a 9×12 inch baking dish. Arrange the potatoes atop, overlapping if necessary. Layer the tomatoes atop the potatoes, then spread the onion mixture evenly over the tomatoes. Bake until the tomato sauce is thickened, the meat is deep brown and potatoes are tender, about 1 hour.

Let sit 10 minutes before serving. To serve, cut into squares, spooning some of the sauce directly over each square.

4 Responses to Baked Kafta with Potato (Kafta bi Seniyah)

  1. my husband's mom is armenian, and she makes kufta — stuffed meatballs, which are a pain to make but delish. pretty much the same ingredients and spices plus some mint, basil, and paprika, but the kufta have a meat interior, encased in a meat and bulgar exterior, the shape is spherical, and then they are boiled in broth.

    it is interesting to me to see variations on similar dishes through the region.

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