Potato Kafta

This potato kafta is a delicious twist on the usual kafta: The potatoes are boiled then mixed with the meat and flavored with a garlicky cilantro pesto.

The kaftas are shaped like burgers and can be pan-fried, grilled or baked with a slice of onion and tomato on top.


  • 1 pound of lean (95%) ground beef (sirloin is what I used)
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro pesto
  • 1 pound of baking potatoes
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • 2 Large onions
  • 2 Large tomatoes
  • Spices for kafta: One teaspoon of allspice, cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of paprika, black pepper, sumac (or use 1/2 Tablespoon of kafta spice mix)


  1. Boil the potatoes until done; meanwhile, peel 6 garlic cloves, chop in little pieces and mash in a mortar with a dash of salt. When the garlic is pasty, stop. Wash and dry half a bunch of cilantro leaves (about 1/2 cup packed) and mince as fine as possible. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet and place the garlic and cilantro on the oil, stirring with a wooden spoon to get the mixture to combine; after 30 seconds remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Place the boiled potatoes (peeled) in a large bowl; add the meat, spices and cilantro pesto. Mix to combine well (it is helpful to wear disposable gloves here). Shape the potato kafta into burgers and either pan-fry or grill. If pan-frying, heat a little oil and sprinkle flour on the kafta patties. Another option is to grease a pan, line up the patties and top with a slice of onion and a slice of tomato; salt a bit and bake in a preheated oven at 350F until the patties are done and the meat is cooked. Serve warm.

Source for the recipe: Chef Ramzi’s The Culinary Heritage of Lebanon.

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  1. Posted May 1, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    That pesto – something to dream about!! What a perfect complement.

  2. Posted May 1, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Those look so delicious. I’ve never added potatoes to kafta, I bet it’s just scrumptious! Great idea.

  3. Posted May 1, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    The addition of potatoes is terrific and nice flavors with the garlicky cilantro pesto too!

  4. Posted May 2, 2011 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    Bonjour Joumana, quelles délicieuses ” croquettes ” bien parfumées et si moelleuses….qu’on en mangerait, bisous et bon lundi

  5. Posted May 2, 2011 at 1:48 am | Permalink

    Delicious! I love kafta. That version is interesting.



  6. Posted May 2, 2011 at 2:24 am | Permalink

    yum! i never had kafta like this before. looks delish! love me some meat balls. congrats to your winners too.

  7. Posted May 2, 2011 at 2:54 am | Permalink

    j’en veux moi de ton truc

  8. Posted May 2, 2011 at 2:55 am | Permalink

    Very tempting kafta,feel like having some;.

  9. Posted May 2, 2011 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    The potato croquettes sound delicious. I usually make them without the addition of meat.

  10. Posted May 2, 2011 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Potato croquettes can also be made with leftover potatoes and they make for a wonderful meze.!

  11. Posted May 2, 2011 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    What a fun take on kafta! Love the flavorful pesto in there!

  12. Posted May 2, 2011 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    This looks incredible! I must try this recipe soon…thank you so much for sharing! :)

  13. Posted May 2, 2011 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    A wonderfully simple but flavorful patty! I’ve never made a minced meat patty with potato in it but I love the idea.

  14. samir
    Posted May 2, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    these must be fabulous..have never tried this version of kafta..where in lebanon does chef ramzi say this dish originates from and its regional name?

  15. Joumana
    Posted May 2, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    @Samir: He says it is from Aley and since I only have the English version of the book here, the only title to it is potato kafta (which sounds appropriate! :)

  16. Posted May 2, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    They must be incredibly soft, with so many potatoes, and incredibly tasty because of spices and meat.

  17. Posted May 2, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Looks and sounds fantastic! My husband said his mother used to make something like this but doesn’t remember what she called it. Anyway, we’ll definitely give this a try! I can’t wait! :)

  18. Posted May 2, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    I’m so excited that I got picked to win the ma’amoul cookie mold, my kids are going to love helping make the cookies! I tried to email you but I kept getting back this: “Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently : joumana@tasteofbeirut.com” Do you gave another email? Or you can email me at alfar.gail@gmail.com, and I’ll provide my address.

  19. Posted May 2, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    I make something similar but I call it tikki :) I never add pesto and I like the idea of adding pesto !!

  20. Posted May 2, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    Loved your recipe on You Tube for baklava. So simple. Such an excellent idea- thank you.

  21. Posted May 2, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    These remind me in a lot of ways of Persian kotlets (cutlets). Love the spices used here.

  22. Posted May 2, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    I particularly like the warm spices added to the meat mixture.

  23. Posted May 3, 2011 at 2:04 am | Permalink

    What an original idea! I love the addition of the potatoes!!
    I must try this soon :)

  24. Posted May 3, 2011 at 3:27 am | Permalink

    The garlicky cilantro pesto sounds yummy, turns the potato into something very different.

  25. Posted May 3, 2011 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    How awesome! I like the idea of having potatoes mixed inside a “burger” like patty!!!

  26. Posted May 3, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Next time I’m thinking of making meatballs for my partner, I’ll try this recipe instead – he would love it!

  27. Posted May 3, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    j’adore cette recette, elle me tente vraiment , je vais là tester, bravo joumana

  28. Posted May 3, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    The cilantro pesto sounds great in these! Love the crispiness too.

  29. Posted May 3, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    love this version of kafta and cilantro pesto is always delish!!


  30. Posted May 3, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    I love potato kafta. but once i wasn’t paying attention and i made potato kafka. turned into a bug before i was done, and i was never able to finish it. :^)

  31. Joumana
    Posted May 3, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    @Steve: You are too funny! :)

  32. Posted May 5, 2011 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Lovely version of kafta, this would be great for our family night dinners and BBQ’s…

  33. samir
    Posted July 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    This has been on my to make list a long time as i had never heard of it..and today was the day..a nice twist as u say on kafta..the meat stays very flavorful and tender from the addition of the mashed potato, I used 85/15 organic ground beef which was excellent but perhaps too fatty for this dish as the potato provides so much moisture no need for the fat(i realize u specified sirloin), I pan fried half a batch and then baked the second round. and I had some trouble having the patties hold together so i remixed even more before baking the second batch which helped…overall very nice

  34. Joumana
    Posted July 28, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    @Samir: Your observations are very valuable, thank you!

  35. samir
    Posted July 28, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    ps : ) i used 3 or 4 reg size cloves of garlic which was plenty for me.

  36. samir
    Posted July 28, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    your welcome..but thanks to you for your truly inspiring, educational and beautiful blog! I try to read it everyday and there are so many more dishes I want to make that you have posted on , but I always end up making the classics as I try to really perfect those..as far as this dish , hmm, not bad, but not sure i will make it again..it seems the original is so , for lack of better words , just right and classic!

  37. samir
    Posted July 28, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    pss (as always i feel a need to expand on my thought after i post one!)…when i say classic kafta. i mean in all its forms.grilled..pan fried or baked ,,and its variations.. ie with tahineh , or tomatoe /potatoe

  38. Joumana
    Posted July 29, 2012 at 2:18 am | Permalink

    @Samir: Thanks to you for the praise, first of all; also for your comments and observations which are always so pertinent!!!:)

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