Safaid keema (ground meat & potatoes)


Meat and potato comfort food with wonderful Indian spiciness.  Another old recipe by  Julie Sahni clipped from a newspaper who knows when.  I just researched her and found that she is a chef and teacher of Indian cooking and has written several Indian cookbooks. I also found this recipe online in many different versions, so either she has changed it, or others have. (For example, they all list ground cumin as one of the spices, but don’t use the seeds at the end. I really like the seeds.) I did add peas on my own, and I see the others all have done the same.

We ate this as is (with big dollops of yogurt) because to me our carbs, the potatoes, were already in the pan. However I see that others serve it over rice. I’ll list my original recipe here and note my slight changes.

  • 5 tablespoons corn, peanut or vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 1 1/4 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 4 medium potatoes, about 1 pound, peeled ( I used red, but I think any firm potato would be fine)
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh ginger root
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground lamb or beef
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2/3 cup unflavored yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tsp. salt, optional
  • about 1 cup of frozen peas, or as many as you’d like
  1. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and add the onions.  Cook, stirring often, over moderately low heat, about 15 minutes, or until onions are golden brown.  Do not let them become dark brown or the sauce will become dark.
  2. Cut each potato in half or in quarters (depending on the size; I cut mine so I had 1-inch thick disks; I thought they would take too long to cook if I only halved them.) Drop pieces in cold water and set aside.
  3. Put the cumin seeds in a skillet and cook, shaking the skillet, until they are lightly browned.  Do not burn!  Pour the seeds from the skillet and set aside.
  4. Add the garlic and ginger to the onions and cook, stirring, about two minutes longer.  Add the meat and cook, stirring and breaking up any lumps with the side of a heavy metal spoon. Cook until the meat loses its raw look.
  5. (The recipe calls for lean meat, but if you have quite a bit of grease in the pan, drain it from the meat now. Also possible later, but might be easier now)
  6. Drain the potatoes and add them to the meat.  Add the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, cayenne, yogurt and milk. Add the salt if desired. (In newer versions of the recipe I’ve seen online,  1 1/2 cups of water is added at this point. I did not do that. I did not have a “sauce,” at the end; just wonderfully spiced meat with potatoes. I did add a tiny bit more milk at one point to keep it moist. If you want a sauce, try adding water and/or chicken broth at this point.)
  7. Bring to a boil, cover and let simmer about 35 to 45 minutes. Check carefully and do not allow the sauce to stick and burn. (Without that extra water, burning might be possible, but OK to add a little more milk or yogurt if necessary.) I also checked for taste and added a little more of the spices to taste.
  8. In the last few minutes, I thought of adding the peas so I threw them in, frozen.  It didn’t take long for them to heat up in the skillet. Be careful not to break the potato pieces. You want potatoes cooked through, but not so soft they turn into mashed potatoes.
  9. Remove from heat.  First time I made this, I thought it was too greasy so I removed some of the grease at this point, but it would be better to do it earlier on.
  10. Add roasted cumin seeds and stir gently. Serve with yogurt.  Cucumber and yogurt salad makes a nice side. Chutney also goes well according to author, but we used only yogurt and loved it.
  11. Yields 4 servings.

I always have some fresh herbs around.  I chopped some mint and cilantro to sprinkle on top, but it tastes wonderful without it.  We ate the leftovers two days later and I think it was even better. So, this is a good one for a make-ahead dish.  Also, freezing is recommended.

Just found this recipe in a 1983 New York Magazine article online.  That is probably exactly where I cut it out from!  33 years ago!

Published in: on January 6, 2016 at 10:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Beef Kaftas

Screen shot 2014-06-18 at 9.12.21 PM

Some years ago we had a coupon to a Lebanese restaurant and we ate Kaftas for the first time. We loved them so I looked them up on the Internet and came up with this recipe. I’m not a big fan of lamb so I  normally make them with just beef, and/or turkey or chicken. I also normally shape them like short, kind of flat cigars, but tonight I just made small patties for easier handling on the grill.

  • 1 lb. ground lamb or beef (or half and half)
  • 1 large onion, finely minced
  • 1/2 bunch minced parsley (maybe a cup?)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • yogurt as condiment

Mix all ingredients (except the yogurt). Roll into cigar shapes. Grill or broil. Serve with yogurt.

It’s important not to overcook as the meat will get tough. The yogurt is great. You can also use tzaziki or just add some mint to yogurt.

I just looked up the recipe again as I’ve had this one for so long and found the following.  It has no cinnamon, but all the other stuff along with the more traditional egg and breadcrumbs.  I’ll try this next time and if it doesn’t work, will delete it.  In the meantime you can try one or the other and let me know which worked best!

Lebanese Kofta (or Kafta) by Michigal

This Arabic meat mixture has been made in my family for generations. We make it on skewers to grill on the barbecue, but this recipe can also be used for hamburgers (lamburgers). It’s amazing served with tzatziki or Arabic garlic spread. We usually serve it with hummus and tabbouli as side dishes. The 1/2 lamb, 1/2 beef mixture is simply to keep the cost down. Feel free to adjust to 100% lamb. Enjoy!


  • ½ pounds Ground Lamb
  • ½ pounds Ground Beef
  • ½ cups Finely Chopped Parsley
  • ½ cups Finely Chopped Onion
  • 2 Tablespoons Ground Allspice
  • 2 cloves Minced Garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Ground Paprika
  • ½ teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • ⅓ cups Bread Crumbs
  • 1 whole Egg


Soak bamboo skewers for 30 minutes before prepping (or use stainless steel skewers).

Preheat an outdoor grill to high heat.

Mix all of the ingredients above thoroughly in a large glass bowl.

Wet fingers and hands (or coat fingers and hands with a bit of olive oil) and mold meat mixture around skewers in a long, oblong log shape. (You can also mold this first, and then thread the skewer through them, but the other way is easier).

Grill until meat is no longer pink. Do not over grill, but ensure that the meat is cooked thoroughly.

Serve hot.


I’m going to copy Michigal’s (she must be from Michigan) recipe for “Cool Garlicky Cucumbers” too because it sounds so good. Will have to try next time.

Cool Garlicky Cucumbers


This recipe is like a crazy version of the old fashioned “cucumbers and sour cream” with a Greek tzadziki flair. We absolutely love this in the summertime, as it’s a very cool, refreshing side dish. It’s a fantastic complement to zesty or spicy meats or legumes. We love it best with a really flavorful barbecue-grilled steak and corn on the cob. Just try it once—I guarantee you’ll fall in love with it!


  • 1 cup Fage Or Oikos Greek Yogurt (MUST Be Greek)
  • ½ cups Sour Cream
  • 1 whole Very Large Cucumber (or Two Regular Sized Ones), Peeled, Seeded And Diced
  • ⅓ cups Red Onion, Diced Finely
  • 3 cloves Fresh Garlic, Minced
  • ½ teaspoons White Vinegar
  • ½ teaspoons White Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Dried Mint (or Two Tablespoons Fresh Mint, Chopped)
  • ½ teaspoons Or More Freshly Ground Sea Salt
  • 2 pinches Freshly Ground Black Pepper


In a medium-sized glass mixing bowl, combine the sour cream, yogurt, minced garlic, salt, sugar, pepper and white vinegar. Mix well. Then add the mint, crushing it between your fingertips as you sprinkle it in the bowl, allowing the oils to release and making the mint more potent. Then add the cucumber and onion, mixing well. Taste, and add more salt if you think necessary. Don’t be afraid of the salt (unless you have high blood pressure or heart problems)—it really brings out the flavor of the yogurt and garlic. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap, and chill for at least one hour before serving.


Published in: on June 18, 2014 at 8:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Not-So-Impossible Moussaka Pie


My younger self, a traveler to the Greek Islands and a frequent diner at all the authentic Greek restaurants of Munich (thanks to all the Gastarbeiter) would be appalled to think that I would consider this moussaka.  I don’t consider it moussaka; I just think of it as a tasty way to use eggplant and feta cheese when I have too much of it.

Not-so-Impossible Moussaka Pie

  • I tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces (1/2 lb.) ground beef
  • 2 Tablespoons minced onion
  • 2 Tablespoons minced green pepper (or celery)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced zucchini (or use eggplant; see note below)
  • 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano or 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon; 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup biscuit mix, such as Bisquick
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease or mist a 9-inch pie dish with cooking spray.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Crumble in ground beef and cook, stirring and breaking up meat, until the beef is browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add onion, bell pepper, zucchini, oregano, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring until zucchini softens, 4 minutes.

Transfer beef mixture to pie pan. Srpinkle feta cheese evenly over top.  Whisk together biscuit mix, milk and eggs in a small bowl, then pour this evenly over feta.

Bake the pie until it is golden brown and firm to the touch, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes. Then cut it  into wedges and serve.

NOTE:  I have made this with pre-cooked eggplant.  I spread about 2 cups of cooked eggplant in the bottom of the pie plate. I topped it with meat, feta cheese and the bisquit mix.

Published in: on July 21, 2013 at 8:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Stifado (Greek spiced braised beef & onions)


Too bad that the photo for such a delicious dish is soo bad. I will try to get a better photo next time I make this. But, don’t wait for the photo update to make this Stifado recipe. Try it as soon as possible because it’s a winner.

As usual I couldn’t follow the recipe exactly.  I didn’t see any of those little white onions in the store so I just bought a big white onion (not yellow, but white onion).  I chopped it and added it after the meat was pretty much tender.  My onions were just slivers so they didn’t need the extra 30 minutes of cooking that the small round ones need. I think I cooked them another 10 minutes or so. I just threw the feta cubes on top AS WELL AS chopped mint which I coincidentally bought at the same store.  The mint was a great addition!  Make it part of the recipe if you can. But we’ve had it in the past with no mint and it was still very good. I serve this over orzo  just because orzo is Greek.

6 servings

  • 6 TBS olive oil
  • 3 lbs lean boneless beef, prefereabely round or chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 (6-oz) can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 (4-inch) cinnamon sticks (I just sprinkle in a little ground cinnamon)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs small white onions, each about 1 inch in diameter
  • 1/2 lb feta cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (I probably use less)

In a heavy 10-12-inch skillet, heat the olive oil over moderate heat until a light haze forms above it.  Pat the cubes of beef completely dry with paper towels and brown them in the hot oil in 3 or 4 batches, turning them frequently with a slotted spoon and regulating the heat so the beef colors deeply and evenly without burning. As they brown, transfer the cubes to a heavy 6 to 8 quart casserole.

To the fat remaining in the skillet, add the stock, tomato paste, vinegar, cumin, cinnamon and a few grindings of pepper.  Bring to a boil over high heat, scraping up any brown particles clinging to the bottom and sides of the pan.

Pour sauce over the meat in the casserole.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the casserole tightly and simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes before adding the onions.

To peel the onions easily, drop them into a large pot of rapidly boiling water and cook briskly for 1 minute.  Immediately drain them in a sieve or colander and run cold water over them.  Then trim the ends with a small, sharp knife and slip off the peel.

Stir the onions into the casserole, re-cover and cook for 30 minutes longer, or until the beef and onions are tender.  Stir in the cheese and simmer uncovered for 2 or 3 minutes, until the cheese softens somewhat and is heated through. Taste for seasoning and serve directly from the casserole.

From “Foods of the World: Middle Eastern Cooking.” Time-Life Books  (But I got it from a newspaper clipping. I think those Time-Life Books are pretty old which would explain some of the language.)

Published in: on May 21, 2013 at 3:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Russian Beef Borscht

Even though I swore off this blog because it’s too time-consuming, I couldn’t stop myself from posting this dinner. Years ago in Germany, someone made a borscht that I thought was so delicious. I never forgot it, but I never attempted making it either until last week. I bought beets last week and I was looking for something to do with them. Yes I said last week. The recipes I used (online search; used Emeril’s but combined with a few others that were highly rated) suggested this would taste better after a few days. Anything with vinegar needs to meld so I let it do that for three days. And it was worth the wait. Plus it turned unusually warm over the weekend and I imagined eating this on a cold rainy night. The weather didn’t play along; still unseasonably warm out there, but I’m happy to report it’s just as enjoyable in warm weather as in cold.

So what is borscht? Well as I look that up on Wikipedia in another window, I see it described as a hearty soup that can be a main meal, but it’s usually served as an appetizer. Oops. Don’t tell Luigi. I served it as the main meal. How can it not be? It is VERY hearty. Mine was made with beef, onions, potatoes, carrots, beets, and cabbage and I bought a nice German Rye bread to go with it. What could you possibly eat after that?

The sour cream and fresh dill aren’t just for looks. They complement the borscht nicely so don’t skip them!

Published in: on January 18, 2011 at 9:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Beef Stew

Beef Stew has been a primary food for a long time, or at least one that I remember well. One big reason – it was something mom prepared in a pressure cooker so many years ago  – and that thing was like an antique steam engine! The nice touch on tonight’s stew was the mushrooms (unnamed here) as they really stood up and stood out.

Published in: on January 5, 2010 at 8:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Beef Loin Roast a la Sara

Ok, I’m cheating!  I don’t have a picture of the dinner; maybe Ev does. But this will make a good placeholder. In fact it looks better because the H hacked up the meat pretty good when trying to slice thin. A few wine mishaps at the jolly unstable xmas table made it fun too.

I stole this picture from another guy who blogs about his dinner – only he writes a lot. Too much. Who cares? But his tag line is great and says it all:

Because “What’s for dinner?” is the most important question most of us answer every day.

Ok, wait, Ev thinks I need to say that the potatoes with the creme-fraiche horseradish sauce was a perfect side dish to the meat.  She also sent the photo of the roast, covered in butter, chopped garlic and fresh thyme before it went in the oven.

Not only that but she says we need to show the appetizers as well. Don’t ask me why — more appropriate would be to show all the bottles of excellent wine!

Published in: on December 24, 2009 at 8:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,