Arrival ~ Egypt: Kofta Kebabs with Tzatziki

Welcome to another installment of travels with Joan of Foodalogue and the fantastic Culinary Tour 2011 group.  The group travels around the world making dishes popular to the country or region.  How fun and adventurous is that?  Very!

This week we arrive in Egypt.  As with our recent travel to Japan, I haven’t been so had to travel virtually.  The first thing I do when I arrive in a new country is to set off for the local markets and food stalls.  I am especially interested in the various spices available and used in local and popular dishes.  I spent more than one day wandering the Spice Market in Istanbul and fell so in love that I filled the suitcase with tiny vacuum packs of spices, nuts and dates and sweets that I knew would survive the trip.  I smuggled manti through customs and savored them over a three-week period at home. I also made a great pistachio spice cake using my Turkish pistachios and spices.

When researching dishes popular to Egypt, I knew I wanted something that had a multitude of spices in one dish.  I found that in the popular Kofta Kebabs.  Nothing fancy, nothing hard to prepare but…oh…the mix of spices with the cooling mint and cucumber tzatziki hit all the flavor spots.

Travel with me (yes, virtually) and see the local spices, people and join me for a dish of kofta.


Spices by Pawec Siwak

Spices sold on the street in Hurghada, Egypt by Michael Caven

Local fruit sold on the street…

Fresh fruits sold on the street in Hurghada, Egypt by Micheal Caven

When you arrive in a new country, you always find something that you don’t find at home.  These pipes are a good example.  I just love the color and trims. Photo by David Dennis.

A quiet moment on the street. Photo by Davidlohr Bueso.

Antique dealer on the street…

Cairo Bazaar - Antiques by Zack Sheppard

Kofta Kebabs


  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus a pinch
  • 1 pound ground beef chuck or lamb
  • 3 tablespoons grated onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil, for brushing the grill
  • Tzatziki, recipe follows
  • Grilled flat bread


Smash the garlic cloves, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt, and, with the flat side of a large knife, mash and smear mixture to a coarse paste. Mix the paste and the remaining 1 tablespoon salt with the meat, onion, parsley, and spices.

Line a pan with aluminum foil. Divide the meat mixture into 28 rough balls. Mold each piece around the pointed end of a skewer (if you use wooden ones, soak them in water for 15 minutes before threading them), making a 2-inch oval kebab that comes to a point just covering the tip of the skewer. Lay the skewers on the pan, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.

Heat a grill pan over medium heat or prepare a grill. Brush the pan lightly with olive oil. Working in batches, grill the kebabs, turning occasionally, until brown all over and just cooked through, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and serve with tzatziki and flat bread.

Tzatziki: Yogurt Sauce (Greek yogurt and cucumber sauce)

  • 2 cups plain whole milk yogurt or 1 cup Middle Eastern-style plain yogurt
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved, and seeded
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus a pinch
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mint, crumbled


If you’re using plain whole milk yogurt, line a small sieve with a coffee filter. Put the yogurt in it, set it over a bowl, and refrigerate 12 hours. Discard the expressed liquid and put yogurt in the bowl.

Grate the cucumber on the large holes of a box grater into another bowl. Sprinkle with the 2 teaspoons salt and rub into the cucumber with your hands. Set aside 20 minutes, then squeeze the cucumbers to express as much liquid as possible.

Smash the garlic, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt, and, with the flat side of a large knife, mash and smear the mixture to a coarse paste. Stir the cucumber, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and mint into the yogurt. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

The spices were just perfect….

Cool cucumber and mint yogurt sauce…

Street Scenes…no, you would not see me with this on my face…

Egypt by Archer10

Carriages to carry tourists to sites…

Egypt by Archer10

Linked to: Real Food Wednesday, What’s On Your Plate,  Eat at Home, Works for Me Wednesday, Sweet and Savory Wednesday, Gluten Free Wednesday, Welcome Wednesday, Wandering Wednesday, Wanderlust and Lipstick, Gold Star Wednesday, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Raising Homemakers, Potluck Wednesday


12 responses to “Arrival ~ Egypt: Kofta Kebabs with Tzatziki

  1. The kofta kebabs and their garnishes looks so good…love the sun coming in on them.

    Great selection of photos too!

  2. Pingback: Culinary Tour Around the World • Egypt • Blogger Round-Up | FOODalogue

  3. Your photos are wonderful, but don’t you wish we could have a “smell” feature on our blogs as well? I’d love to know what the olfactory experience is like there.

    • Michelle

      Thanks for the comments….a smell feature would be perfect! The photos are great but I can only take credit for the food shots. Thanks to Creative Commons Attribution, I could travel to Egypt virtually via my Mac.

  4. Yum! Those kebabs look so tasty! I love your collection of pics, there’s nothing prettier or more colorful than piles of spices at market. Thanks for the virtual tour.

  5. YUMMY – cannot wait to try this!!

  6. I have actually had these! We have a local international food festival ,and this is one of the typical dishes that can be found. Thanks for linking them up to CPW:)

  7. Great pics. The kebabs and dip look perfect. Have you rested them on a chard leaf?

    • Michelle

      Thanks for the comment….yes, they are served on chard leaves…I found the most beautiful rainbow chard at the market. Served the chard last night with Lavender and Fennel Salmon….delish!

  8. What fantastic photos for this tour and those piles of spices, I could get lost there! Love your Kofta Recipe, I have made Kofta meatballs but I think my family would enjoy kababs- anything on a stick is a hit at this house. Good to meet you on this tour!

    Robin Sue

  9. Thanks for sharing the delightful pictures. I have been to spice markets in the Middle East and Istanbul and they are mezmerizing! Your kabobs are very appealing, but I’ll have to think of an idea for a vegetarian version using all the wonderful spices and the Tzatziki: Yogurt Sauce . Yum.. thanks for the tour…

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