Kefta Kabobs

aka Ground Beef with Moroccan Spices on a Stick

Recipe adapted from Flavors of Morocco (by Ghillie Basan) and The New Book of Middle Eastern Food (by Claudia Roden)

Kefta Kabobs (2)

It’s been a while since we added a post to our ever-popular series, “Meat on a Stick” – this time we looked to North Africa and the Middle East for inspiration.  Ground meat kabobs are a popular street dish in Morocco, according to the cookbooks referenced above. Anything served as street food can automatically be considered delectable in my book!  After all, vendors would not make much money if their only draw was “hey, eat this, it’s good for you!”  Street fare should pull you in with enticing aromas, look appetizing, and also be easy to eat out of hand.   These kabobs are all that.  The ground meat, from grass-fed beef, was seasoned with onion, garlic, a variety of herbs and spices, plus a spice mixture known as Ras-el-Hanout, then was allowed to chill for a couple of hours so the flavors were well infused into the meat.  As a result, the kabobs looked and smelled irresistible as they cooked on the grill!

Keeping the meatballs stuck on the skewers proved to be a little tricky, so I made small burgers out of about half of the meat mixture.  Either way made for a delightful dinner.  Typically these kabobs would be served enveloped in a warm flat-bread (yum), but we served them with a lemony cilantro-yogurt sauce, alongside grilled red bell peppers and eggplant (also yum).


  • 2 pounds ground beef or lamb (use meat with a higher fat ratio, as lean meat will tend to dry out)
  • 1 onion, grated onto paper towels to adsorb excess moisture
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Ras-el-Hanout (I ordered mine from The Spice House, but you can also blend your own.)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • several grindings black pepper
  • a small bunch of cilantro, finely chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
  • a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (about 3 tablespoons)

Mix the ground meat with all the other ingredients; knead vigorously, until very smooth and pasty.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

Wet your hands and divide the meat into golf-ball sized balls.  This will make 24-30 balls.  Alternatively you can shape the meat into mini-burgers (tangerine-sized balls).

Press the meat balls firmly around square-bladed skewers, and mold into a sausage-link shape.  (If your meat balls are too large, they will just fall off.  Trust me.)

Prepare a grill for direct cooking at around 400F.  When the coals are ready, grill the kabobs for 4-5 minutes each side, turning once or twice, until browned.  Be careful not to overcook or the meat may dry out.

Serve immediately.  These kabobs were perfect with grilled peppers and eggplant, but would also be great with couscous or rice.

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19 thoughts on “Kefta Kabobs

  1. Was in Mombasa, Kenya last december and went to a hindi restaurant where we ordered Kebabs, my did they taste good. Really loved them. Love your post.

  2. Yum, I have something delicious to try for my barbecue tomorrow!

    I just found your blog through Food Gawker and it looks great! I’m going to have a good look around. 🙂


  3. Lamb on the grill cannot be beat. I usually try to bring something different to all of the barbecues I attend. I hate the typical cheap hot dog and inexpensive overcooked burger. This sounds like a great idea for the next one. Thanks.

  4. Made it for the family and everyone loved it, even the kids who asked for seconds and leftovers to be put in their lunch box. Thanks for a simple and delicious recipe, we will be making this again soon.

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