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Kefta Bi Tahini: Kefta with Potatoes and Tahini Sauce

posted on: Mar 13, 2019

By: Blanche Shaheen/Arab America Contributing Writer

As the winter days still linger around, there is always one dish that comes to mind that I fondly remember from my childhood: Kefta bi Tahini, or kefta meatballs with tahini sauce. This hearty dish is the Palestinian answer to Swedish meatballs. Swap out kefta for the meatballs and tahini sauce instead of cream sauce, and you have a Middle Eastern twist on a European favorite.

The creamy tahini imparts a nice nutty flavor to the meat and is versatile with any kind of starch. For instance, if you are not a fan of potatoes, you can serve the kefta and tahini over rice or even quinoa. Likewise, if you are averse to beef, you can use ground turkey instead. You can even turn this into a roasted vegetable casserole, omitting the meat altogether, while using the same seasonings with cubed zucchini and or eggplant. This recipe is incredibly easy to prepare if you are strapped for time–just add a nice leafy salad to round out the meal. You can prepare the kefta and tahini sauce a day in advance and assemble for baking the next day. This is comfort food at its finest, leaving you warm and satisfied in the cold winter months.

For the recipe technique, click on the video below:

Recipe for Kefta Bi Tahini–Makes 10 Servings

For Kefta:

1 pound hamburger (can use ground lamb, beef, or combination of both)

1/3 Bunch parsley

1  clove garlic

½ small onion

Salt to taste

½ tsp lemon pepper

1 tsp allspice

Olive oil

3 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges

2 Large tomatoes, cut into slices

Salt and pepper to taste

1 large onion, sliced into slivers

A few sprigs of fresh thyme

Dash lemon pepper

1 tsp paprika

2 tbsp olive oil

Tahini sauce:

½ cup tahini

Juice of 1 large lemon

2 cloves of garlic, grated or finely minced

1/2 cup water

salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Whirl the garlic, parsley, and onion in food processor. By hand, gently incorporate the herb and onion mix with ground meat, salt, lemon pepper, and allspice. Shape meat into long ovals and place on a cookie sheet greased with olive oil. Take the potatoes and onions, and combine with 2 tbsp of olive oil,  lemon pepper, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Leave a couple of sprigs of thyme to top the whole dish. Make sure the potatoes and onions are well covered with the oil and spices, then add them to the cookie sheet with the meat. Top everything with tomato slices. Salt the tomatoes to taste and sprinkle with more fresh thyme. Bake for 30 minutes. Halfway through the baking process,  turn the potato wedges and beef patties upside down to ensure even browning. While the kefta is baking, prepare the tahini sauce. Take all of the sauce ingredients, and place into a food processor, and blend until very smooth. During the last 10 minutes of baking, remove the kefta from the oven, and drizzle tahini over the dish (reserving a little of the sauce for serving) Bake the kefta with tahini for ten minutes. Once the kefta is done, serve in dishes, and drizzle more tahini sauce evenly over the meat and potatoes. Keep more tahini on the side so people can pour more if desired.


Blanche Shaheen is a journalist, food writer, and host of the cooking show called Feast in the Middle East. She specializes in Arab cuisine of the Levant and beyond  You can check out her cooking video tutorials and cultural commentary on growing up Arab American at    Her recipes can also be found at: