Kafta balls with tahini dip

February 4, 2011  •  Category:


The traditional way to make this dish is to spread the kafta on a pan, slice potatoes, bake the meat and potatoes; then a tahini sauce (aka tarator) is poured all over and the dish is baked again and presented with the layer of potatoes and kafta smothered in tahini sauce. Scrumptious, hearty, wonderful, but….

…with Super Bowl in a couple of days (looks like I am gonna have to watch the thing), turning this dish into a meatballs and dipping sauce made perfect sense.


For the kafta:

  • 1 pound of ground beef or lamb, not too lean (sirloin or leg or shoulder of lamb)
  • 5 ounces of chopped yellow onion
  • 2 ounces of chopped flat parsley
  • 2 ounces of chopped sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
  • Spices: salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper, 1 teaspoon of allspice, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of Aleppo pepper or paprika, 1 teaspoon of sumac (optional)

For the tarator sauce:

  • 3 cloves of garlic, cut up and mashed with a teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup of tahini
  • 1/2 cup of lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup of water


  1. Make the kafta first: Chop the onion and place on a sieve with sumac and salt and let it drain for 20 minutes or longer.
  2. Chop the parsley and assemble the other spices. Place the meat, spices, drained onion and chopped parsley in a food processor bowl. Run the machine for a few minutes until the meat is pasty and smooth.
  3. Heat the oven to 400F.
  4. Place the kafta in a bowl and scoop out (with the help of a cookie dough scoop)onto a sheet pan lined with a long piece of foil. Bake in a 400F oven for 5 minutes or until the meat is cooked. Prepare the tahini sauce while the meatballs are baking. Mash the garlic, cut in tiny bits with a bit of salt. Place in a bowl and add the tahini, stirring to mix. Add the lemon juice and stir some more; add the water and stir until the mixture is smooth.
  5. Remove the kafta balls and place on paper towels to soak up the excess grease.


31 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Rosa says:

    Oh, yummy! That is just what I like.



  2. meriem says:

    J’aime cette façon de manger des boulettes de viande et j’apprends comment faire la sauce “Tarator!…ça doit être délicieux. Bonne soirée.

  3. Devaki says:

    Dear Joumana – Thease are wonderful and I could eat a whole platter and not even blink an eye 🙂

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  4. nammi says:

    yumm , these would go great in parties. looks delicious

  5. Me Myself says:

    Joumana, your Kafta balls look scrumptious!

  6. SYLVIA says:

    Joumana, you’re so creative and very stylish. These crowd-pleasing delicious Mediterranean style mini kafta balls can be served as a meal on their own or on a stick. Perfect for casual get togethers. I love how you use the tarator sauce to spice it up, my friends are going to inhale these, it’s not going to make it into the living room.
    I also don’t care for Superbowl much, but I only watch it for the commercials and the half time show.

  7. Sutapa says:

    I just love them, I wish someone serve me a whole plate now!

  8. Conor @ HoldtheBeef says:

    I think these would make watching the super bowl actually manageable… if there were enough to keep eating them the entire game 😀

  9. Cherine says:

    Yummy!! This is what I want for lunch today 🙂

  10. Ivy says:

    It’s amazing that we have the same food but sometimes with different names. We call this dip tashi and we call talatouri (from tarator) out tzatziki dip. I’d love to have some right now.

  11. Amy @ cookbookmaniac says:

    I absolutely love kafta. I’m so glad that the brand of tahini that I use is featured here. It gives me great relief that I am using authentic ingredients.

  12. peter says:

    Both approaches to this dish sound wonderful…and i like adding allspice into my meatballs as well.

  13. Angie's Recipes says:

    My husband will definitely love those kafta balls! Yummy!

  14. pierre says:

    salut joumana tes photos sont de plus en plus belles ces kefta sont irrésistibles !!!pierre

  15. rebecca says:

    oh wow these look divine great idea for a super bowl party 🙂

  16. My Carolina Kitchen says:

    Wow. These are gorgeous and perfect for tomorrow’s game.

  17. Eve@CheapEthnicEatz says:

    Kafta is so flavorful, I was first served it cooked on a BBQ shaped on a skewer. This version is perfect for a party and the dipping sauce is lovely. I’ll be watching too, it is one sport I can watch on tv once or twice a year and enjoy, but no more lol.

  18. Caffettiera says:

    We don’t have Superbowl here but we did get our share of sport madness with the Soccer World Championship. I might even consider watiching any of the above, provided I am given a sufficient portion of these balls as a motivation. And the sauce, of course.

  19. Paula says:

    I can`t stop looking at this! It`s absolutely divine and I want to try this…

    Have a great time,

  20. Simon says:

    Thanks for the recipe. We often attempt this at home and have tried various combinations. Looking forward to giving this a go.

  21. turkey's for life says:

    These look like perfect nibbles for when we have lots of friends over to visit. We’re more likely to be watching Turkey playing football or basketball though, rather than American Football. 🙂

  22. Grapefruit says:

    The first photo is so appealing. We don’t watch superbowl here, but the cricket world cup is coming up & this looks like the perfect thing to snack on while watching the matches.

  23. Julie says:

    Tu sais que je pense à toi à chaque fois que je vais faire mon marché, il y a une boutique de produits libanais et chaque fois je me dis “mince, j’aurais dû repérer une recette pour savoir quoi acheter maintenant!”.
    Ces boulettes ont l’air super tendres et bien parfumées en tout cas, elles me tentent bien !

  24. tobias cooks! says:

    Great idea, the tahini dip!

  25. grace says:

    what an excellent idea for a dipping sauce, and what magnificent dippers to boot!

  26. Murasaki Shikibu says:

    I am a real fan of your tarator sauce. I can just sit there dipping steamed cauliflower in them happily…and just about anything.

  27. CuisineStyle says:

    Un délice ces boulettes de viandes…

  28. domi says:

    Ces petites balles savoureuses et moelleuses servies avec cette divine sauce sont à tomber comme on dit, bises

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