Baked Kiftah Meatballs with Potatoes and Vegetables
Kiftah is a kebab or meat mixture made up of only few ingredients. It is very popular, in fact its an obsession throughout the Middle East and the Arab world with slight variations. This version is made up of a mixture of ground beef, lamb or chicken, finely chopped parsley, chopped onions and a few spices.
Kiftah is not only delicious but is so versatile and used in so many dishes and preparations. This is the basic recipe for kiftah and is used in so many dishes in the Palestinian kitchen. Kiftah can be made into meatballs and added into soups and stews, made into kiftah burgers, baked with tahini or tomato sauce also grilled as a kiftah Kabab for BBQs. These meat patties can be shaped and cooked in so many ways.
This baked kiftah recipe is a one casserole dish and is part of an array of dishes that are essentially cooked and served in the same sanieh (tray) or a baking dish hence it’s name kiftah bi al Sanieh in Arabic meaning (kiftah baked in a tray). Making this dish a perfect weeknight meal. The meat can be prepared in advance and frozen up to 3 months. This way you have kiftah anytime you want just thaw in the fridge and cook according to the recipe. The vegetables and kiftah meatballs caramelize in the oven and the pan juices create the most delicious sauce.
Serve this dish with a simple chopped salad, Arab bread to mop up the juices and briny olives.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 45- 60 minute.
For the kiftah meatballs:
1 pound minced lamb or beef or a combination
1 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley from a small bunch
1 small onion finely diced or grated
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp All spice
Salt and pepper
1/4 tsp or few grinds of fresh nutmeg
1 tablespoon of red pepper paste (optional) or you can also use 1 Tsp tomato paste
For the casserole:
3 tbls olive oil
2 pounds medium potatoes about 4-5
1 onion thinly sliced into rounds
3 tomatoes cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
1 bell pepper thinly sliced into rounds
1 jalapeño cut into rounds (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400F
Let’s start by prepping our potatoes. Although you can just slice your potatoes and toss them in the oven. But I love the results of parboiling or partially boiling the potatoes . This method yields to creamy potatoes on the inside and crunchy and crispy on the outside.
To parboil your potatoes:
Start by placing your whole potatoes in a pot and cover them with water.
Throw in a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil, lower the heat to medium and continue boiling for about 10 minutes
Test your potatoes with the tip of a s knife if it goes in with slight resistance, they are ready for their next step.
Drain the water and let your potatoes cool enough to handle. Once the potatoes are cooled, cut into 1/2 thick slices.
To prepare the kiftah:
In a bowl, mix all the kiftah ingredients together until combined but don’t over mix. Spray your hands with cooking spray or olive oil and shape the mixture into golf size patties. Divide the kiftah into 12-14 equal size balls and flatten slightly. Each kiftah ball is about 2.5 Oz each or adjust to the size you like.
Tip: if kiftah mixture is sticky dip your fingers in a bowl of ice cold water or spray your hands with a bit of oil it will help smooth the kiftah balls.
In your baking dish, toss the sliced potatoes, sliced onions, sliced tomatoes and sliced peppers with 2 tbls of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
Arrange them in a single layer in the baking dish overlapping slightly.
Top the potatoes and vegetables mixture with the kiftah balls. Drizzle with the remaining one tbls of olive oil all over the top. Add 1/2 cup of water or broth to the bottom of the dish and bake covered until cooked through about 30 minutes then uncover for additional 15 minutes.
Check to make sure the potatoes are done and cooked all the way through.
To serve: spoon some of the kiftah meatballs, veggies on a plate, make sure you spoon some of that sauce (pan drippings) on top. Serve with a chopped salad, arab bread and olives.