I think of Middle Eastern Kufta Baked with Potatoes and Tahini Sauce as something of a Middle Eastern meatloaf and potato casserole. Onion, herbs, and warm Middle Eastern spices are mixed with ground beef, then topped with sliced potatoes and covered with a creamy tahini and yogurt sauce that is fragrant with lemon and garlic. A dish that is truly homey and comforting.
I learned this dish years ago while living in the Middle East. Kufta is ground meat, usually beef or lamb, that is mixed with onion, parsley, and Baharat, an Arabic spice mixture. Kufta can be pressed onto skewers and grilled for Kufta kabab or shaped into meatballs and cooked in a sauce. In this dish, known as Kufta bis-saniyyah (Kufta in the oven), the Kufta is pressed into a baking dish, topped with sliced potatoes, covered with a sauce, and baked. Two sauces I frequently use are a spicy tomato based sauce or, as shown here, a lemony, garlicky tahini sauce. The advantage of making the Kufta in the oven is the speed and ease with which the dish can be completed. Not to mention that the tahini sauce is amazing!
Visiting the Spice Souq (market) in the Middle East is a magical experience. Bin after bin of exotic spice mixes are on display where you can buy the mix in the form of whole spices or freshly ground. Baharat, which means spices in Arabic, is an aromatic mix of warm spices, usually including pepper, cinnamon, coriander, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, cumin, and cardamom. Baharat is easy to make at home with a spice grinder and as there are endless variations, you can tweak the recipe to your liking. Alternatively, you can find a Baharat spice blend in your local Middle Eastern food market or here.
Onion, parsley, garlic, Baharat, and an optional green pepper are processed until finely minced in the food processor. This mixture is combined with the ground beef and pressed into a baking dish. I poke holes into the Kufta before baking to speed the baking process and provide little dips to hold the sauce. Put the pan into the oven for a few minutes while preparing the sauce. The meat will be somewhat set but don't leave it in too long or the meat will be overcooked in the end. Potatoes that have been sliced and boiled until almost tender are layered on top. The tahini sauce, made by blending tahini, yogurt, garlic and lemon, is poured on top.
Middle Eastern Kufta Baked with Potatoes and Tahini Sauce can be served on its own, or more traditionally, served atop rice to catch all of the delicious sauce along with tabbouleh or a Middle Eastern chopped salad of tomato and cucumber.
Middle Eastern Kufta Baked with Potatoes and Tahini Sauce
- 1 ½ lbs potatoes (680g)
For the Kufta:
- 1 lb ground beef (454g)
- 1 medium onion
- 4 cloves garlic, squeezed in a press or finely minced
- 1 long green pepper (optional) *see note
- 1 handful parsley (.8oz, 23g)
- 1 teaspoon Baharat *click for recipe*
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
For the sauce:
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 ½ cups yogurt (13.5oz, 383g)
- ½ cup tahini (4.8oz, 135g)
- ½ cup lemon juice (4.5oz, 127g)
- 1 cup water (8.6oz, 244g)
- 2 chicken bouillon cubes
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
For the potatoes:
- Peel, slice, and boil the potatoes until just tender but not falling apart. Drain and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
For the Kufta:
- Combine all of the Kufta ingredients except the ground beef in a food processor and process until finely minced.
- Put the mixture into a 9 by 13 inch baking pan. Add the ground beef and mix by hand to combine but don't over-work.
- Press the Kufta into a flat, uniform layer in the baking pan. Poke holes into the Kufta with your fingers as shown in the photo above.
- Put the baking pan into the preheated oven for about 7 minutes while you make the sauce. This will allow the meat to set slightly. Do not leave it in longer or the meat will be overcooked in the end.
Make the sauce:
- In a blender combine the sauce ingredients and blend until smooth.
- Remove the pan from the oven. Top with sliced potatoes. Pour sauce over evenly to cover.
- Bake at 400 degrees F for about 40 minutes. The sauce will be bubbling.
- Remove from oven.
- There will be plenty of sauce to serve with rice.
*Kufta is often made without green pepper but I like to add a mildly spiced pepper for a more delicious flavor.
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern
THIS, was soooooo good!!! I didnt have "baharat" I thought it was arabic spices but I didnt want to risk it. So I looked up what baharat mix was and put in alittle bit of each spice. Anyways, it tasted so good. Thanks for sharing ♡ I will make it again FOR SURE !
Thank you, Hajar! I'm so glad you liked it! Baharat is an Arabic spice mix. I have a recipe for it here.
hi..havent had this in years,,What fat pertage ground beeef you use? to lean will be dry right?
Hi Maria! Yes, I use 85% to keep it juicy. I also boil the potatoes a bit first so I don't have to cook the meat too long.
I make this dish once a while, therefore I usually look up the recipe to remember how to do it. Although I did this slightly different before, your recipe was beautiful.
Thanks so much, Sam! I'm so glad you enjoyed it! This dish has had a permanent place on the dinner rotation in our family for many years. There are many ways to make it, and taking little tricks and tips from friends and tweaking it over the years, this is my preferred way to make it. Sometimes if I want to make it in advance and keep it in the refrigerator until right before baking, I assemble the whole thing without baking the meat alone first. This also works just fine. I've learned that pre-boiling the potatoes ensures that they are tender without overcooking the meat. As a variation, sometimes I use a tomato sauce instead of a tahini sauce on top. Thanks again!
This is a good recipe but slightly different than the one my husband’s Palestinian family makes. Instead of boiling the potatoes they fry them slightly in oil and then add a little salt on them while frying. Don’t overfry them though, they just need a few minutes on each side. Also they add finely chopped cilantro to the meat mixture as well.
Oh that's really interesting! I bet they're delicious like that. I'll have to try it. My mother-in-law puts hers in raw, but I don't like to wait so long for them to bake. Thanks so much for stopping by!
I've tried your recipe and it came really tasty thank you :).
Usually I like to put the potatoes in the bottom and the meat on top and put some ghee or butter and leave it on the stove for 20 minutes with medium-low heat then put it in the oven with the tahini sauce for 10 minutes. The meat juice would taste amazing with the potatoes in the bottom.
Great idea! Thanks so much!
Excellent recipe! Came out exactly right. It tasted just like my mom used to make it when I was a kid. :)))
Aw thanks so much, Rashad! That's the best compliment possible!
Why is it that my tahini sauce is always curdling after I place it into the oven? I dont use yogurt. What am I doing wrong? Everything seems great before I place it into the oven. Thanks
Hi Sabrin, I've never made it without the yogurt so I haven't experienced that before. I process my tahini with yogurt in a blender so it all gets very well mixed and smooth.
So I'm confused on the garlic.. you Said 4 cloves for kufta mix? Plus an additional 4 cloves for the sauce? (So total 8 garlic cloves?) Or its only 4 cloves total only for sauce?
Hi Mahmoud, It’s a total of 8 cloves of garlic.