Saturday, February 1, 2014

Kufta in Yogurt Sauce كفتة باللبن

I made this not quite realizing that it was a real recipe - I was thinking of making shish barak (see Mimi's recipe for that), which is kind of like Middle Eastern ravioli. However, I had no patience for making all those little ravioli, but I really enjoyed that sauce. Only later did I realize that this is a legitimate, traditional recipe, called Kufta bil-laban, "Kufta in yogurt." (Not so helpful for everyone, but here's a recipe for it in Arabic.)

Ingredients

1.25 pounds lean ground beef
2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
Dash nutmeg

2 cups yogurt (or 1.75 c. yogurt, 1/4 cup water if yogurt is very thick, like greek yogurt. Middle eastern yogurt is normally a bit watery)
3 tsp. corn starch

4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. (or to taste) cilantro, minced (optional)
Olive oil for sauteing

Preparation

Preheat oven to 450, or broiler if you'll be able to watch closely. Mix beef and spices, roll into small balls. Place the kufta balls on a cookie sheet and bake or broil until solid and cooked. 

Slowly heat, on very low heat, yogurt mixed with corn starch. In another pan, sautee garlic until it starts to become golden. Throw in cilantro briefly, then pour all of this into the yogurt. Add kufta balls, and cook briefly until combined and everything is warmed and cooked through. 

I recommend serving this on vermicelli rice.  You could also sprinkle some pine nuts on top to garnish.