El Kofta : A tribute to my dear MIL

Every wife wants to please her husband, and the best way to do it, if you still haven't got any clue, is to cook his favourite dishes. Oh wait, is to replicate his mom's dishes. Exactly, if you can.

Now, as my husband hails from the other side of the world, I did not grow up eating those staple food and hence could never get the taste right during my trials. Yes, I did the good-wifely thing to do, which is to help her and observe in the kitchen whenever we visit Egypt earlier on in our marriage, but strangely it's not the communication that failed me. The ingredients look simple enough (although she calls all spices, well, Spices! (bakharat), but MIL has this free-easy way of working in her kitchen. She is the boss. If she feels like it, she'll throw in some other spices when I wasn't looking, not intentionally of course.

Like the Chinese 5-spice powder, the arabic world has several of those, and I'm sure it is different from country to country. So she has this magic powder called "Spices" and I have no clue what is it made of. So I basically avoided all the recipes that required these "spices", as I haven't really have a good grip of it, taste-wise. Most of her dishes are tomato based, and the basic ingredients are garlic, freshly blended tomatoes and cumin and well, Spices.

On her last visit recently after I gave birth, she took over the kitchen most days. Habibi is of course the happiest child one, like a child being treated to candy. She made Kofta, oh my favourite. I noticed she has more than 1 recipe of koftas and Masha-Allah, they are all Good! The one that she most recently made for us was a knock out.

We were actually at the supermarket, and I'm done with most of the groceries, when suddenly I saw habibi giving the butcher some herbs to grind with meat. It was an interesting combination of herbs and I was delighted to know that kofta was in the making. Love that the supermarkets here will oblige to you if you wanted herbs & spices to your minced meat! It was marvellous piece of work, I assure you as I couldn't stop picking one kofta after another when it was ready. Koftas are much healthier and tastier than those manufactured sausages/hotdogs!

For a small family, a regular food processor will do, otherwise grind the ingredients coarsely then mix them with the minced meat. You may chop the herbs/ingredients finely if you do not have a processor.

Here are the ingredients, 600gm - 1kg pack of minced meat will give you enough for a whole family.

Simply dump all these herbs into the food processor

- A bunch* of parsley
- A bunch of dill
- A bunch of coriander leaves
- A bunch of spring onions
- 1 onion
- 3-4 garlic
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 1/2 cup rice powder
- Salt to taste

* a bunch, literally, as much as your hands can grab, else half to 1 cup is a good gauge. Relax, if you added more or less herbs, it won't spoil the end result, I promise. If you like spicy, throw in one or two tiny green chilli padi for that extra zing!

After giving these a quick blitz, add the meat and give it a good massage with your hands afterwards. Roll them out like small sausages or ball it, up to you. Fry it in shallow oil, and drain with kitchen towels. I love to eat them just like that with bread and perhaps a good hummus bi tahina but my husband prefers it with gravy. Today I made 2 batches, one cooked in tomato stew with potatoes, and another batch I made the quick and easy Kofta Curry (recipe next). Eaten with warm basmati rice.

Happy trying!


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