Recipe of the Week – Kifta wa Batata in Tahineh

I decided to be a little more adventurous this week and try to make an actual meal.


I have to admit, sadly, that the most anxiety-provoking aspect of this dish is making the rice. I don’t think I’ve ever, successfully at least, made real rice before. What do I mean by ‘real rice’? Well, I don’t think I’ve ever made rice that wasn’t instant rice. I’ve never made rice that wasn’t held hostage inside a plastic bag that required nothing more from me other than throwing  it into a pot of water and watching it come to a boil.  Shameful. I know.

Considering that like 95% of the food I hope to make include rice, I figured now would probably be as good a time as any to get over the anxiety of rice-making.  Ooooh, this should be fun!

So, getting back to the actual dish I picked. I decided to make Kifta wa Batata with Tahineh this week. Kifta is basically an oddly-shaped meatball. It’s shaped more like a football than a meatball and is spiced with cinnamon vs. garlic or oregano. You can make kifta with either ground lamb or ground beef. My mom’s recipe calls for beef, but I haven’t decided which I’d rather use.  The kifta is cooked with wedged potatoes (batata), and I’ve chosen to make this in a tahineh (sesame seed paste) sauce vs. dry or with a tomato-based sauce.

This is my favorite way to eat Kifta. It’s one of the few dishes I actually got excited about eating when I was a kid.  It’s meat and carbs – how could you not love that?

Kifta wa Batata in Tahineh

To make the Kifta:

2 lbs. finely ground lamb or beef

Onion chopped finely – (to taste – she suggested 1 small onion)

1 cup parsley – finely chopped

Around 2 tsp. of salt  – might need a little more depending on which meat is being used

1-1 1/2 tsp. of ground pepper

1 tsp. allspice (probably use a little more)

Cinnamon to taste

Mix all ingredients together well and mold into roughly 3-4 inch rolls. Think – half version of a kabob almost.

Once molded, put kifta into a circular, greased baking pan and bake alone for 10 minutes. (She didn’t give me a temperature to cook it at, but Sahtein says 400 degrees).

While kifta is cooking, peel and wash a handful of potatoes. (more or less depending on taste and size)

Cut potatoes into wedged slices – cut to desired thickness (just keep in mind, not too thick since it doesn’t cook super long)

For Tahineh mixture:

About a 1/2 cup of tahineh

Salt and pepper (not too much)

Lemon juice (to taste)

2 cups of water

Mix (blend if necessary) to thin out the sauce

Add potatoes and tahineh mixture to the kifta  and continue to bake for another 35 minutes or until done.

You can eat this as is or over rice. I’ll opt for making it with the rice.  I haven’t been able to find my mom’s recipe for rice that is cooked with vermicelli noodles. That’s how we ate rice when she made it, so I’d like to keep to that recipe. There’s one in the Sahtein cookbook, but I think I might try to get  a hold of one of my aunts or a cousin and see if they have a better recipe.

I’ll post that recipe up either before Sunday’s attempt or with the weekly update.

Wish me luck!

B.S. – Sorry for the excessive use of the word rice. There really isn’t a suitable synonym to replace it with. I just ended that sentence with a preposition. These are the things you must get used to when reading this blog.  : )

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