Turkish İnegöl meatballs.

Kofta is a family of meatball or meatloaf dishes found in South Asian, Central Asian, Balkan, Middle Eastern, North African, and South Caucasian cuisines. In the simplest form, koftas consist of balls of minced meat – usually beef, chicken, pork, lamb or mutton, or a mixture – mixed with spices and sometimes other ingredients.[1] The earliest known recipes are found in early Arab cookbooks and call for ground lamb.

There are many national and regional variations. There are also vegetable and uncooked versions. Shapes vary and include balls, patties, and cylinders. Sizes typically vary from that of a golf ball to that of an orange.


In English, kofta is a loanword borrowed from the Hindi-Urdu कोफ़्ता / کوفتہ and Persian کوفته kofta meaning pounded meat.[2][3][4][1] The earliest extant use of the word in the Urdu language is attested from the year 1665 in Mulla Nusrati's ʿAlī Nāma.[5][6] It was first used in English in Qanoon-e-Islam in 1832,[7] and then by James Wise in 1883.[8] The languages of the region of the kofta's origin have adopted the word with minor phonetic variations.[9] Similar foods are called in other languages croquettes, dumplings, meatballs, rissoles, and turnovers.[9][10]


The ancient Roman cookbook Apicius included many meatball-type recipes.[11]

The first appearance of recipes for kofta are in the earliest Arab cookbooks.[12][9] The earliest recipes are for large ground lamb meatballs triple-glazed in a mixture of saffron and egg yolk.[12] This glazing method spread to the West, where it is referred to as "gilding" or "endoring".[9] Koftas moved to India; according to Alan Davidson, Nargisi Kofta was served at the Mughal court.[9]

Koftas are found from the Indian subcontinent through Central Asia, the Middle East, the Balkans, and northern Africa.[9] Koftas are found in the traditional cuisines of Armenia,[13][14] Afghanistan,[13] Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria,[9] Georgia,[14] Lebanon, Egypt,[13][14] Greece,[9] India,[9][13][15] Iran, Morocco,[9] Pakistan,[16] Romania,[17] Serbia, North Macedonia, and Turkey.[13][18] Kofta is also a popular dish among Assyrian people.[19] In Turkey, it is "a preferred offering at communal gatherings of all kinds", according to Engin Akin.[18] In Armenia and Azerbaijan, it is, along with dolma, lavash, harissa, kebabs, and pahlava, a dish of "clearly symbolic ethnic significance" often argued over by gastronationalists attempting to claim it as one of their own country's traditional dishes that has been co-opted by the other country.[14]

Cooking Methods

The basic Ingredient of koftas is usually meat, but they are known for their versatility. There are many different ways to prepare it, like frying, baking, steaming, boiling, or grilling.[20] In traditional preparation methods, kofta is kneaded with fine bulgur and meat, and in some middle eastern countries it is served with the raw meat in the kneaded form.

Innovative fillings and sizes

With the inventive fillings that frequently enhance the flavor profile, koftas provide plenty of opportunity for creative culinary experimentation. Often added into the kofta mixture are nuts, cheese, or eggs.[21] Furthermore, koftas come in a broad range of shapes and sizes, from little oval shaped egg size balls to flatly carved rhombuses in trays, or tennis ball sized koftas. In addition to satisfying personal tastes, this variation in size and shape enables creative display and serving possibilities.


Generally meat is mixed with spices and often other ingredients such as rice, bulgur, vegetables, or eggs to form a paste.[9] They can be grilled, fried, steamed, poached, baked, or marinated, and may be served with a rich spicy sauce or in a soup or stew.[9] Koftas are sometimes made from fish or vegetables or even cottage cheese rather than red meat.[22] Some versions are stuffed with nuts, cheese, or eggs.[9] Generally the size can vary from the "size of an orange to the size of a golf ball",[23] although some variants are outside that range; tabriz köftesi, which average 20 centimetres (8 in) in diameter, are the largest.[9] They can be shaped in various forms[10] including patties, balls, or cylinders.[24] Some versions are uncooked.[12]


See also


  1. ^ a b Ayto, John (1994). A Gourmet's Guide: Food and Drink from A to Z. Oxford University Press. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-19-280025-1. In Indian cookery, the term kofta denotes a spiced meatball, or a similarly shaped mass of chopped fish or vegetable, cooked in a spicy sauce. In Hindi, the word means literally 'pounded meat'.
  2. ^ "kofta". Oxford English Dictionary. 2023. Retrieved 27 December 2023. The earliest known use of the noun kofta is in the 1880s. OED's earliest evidence for kofta is from 1888, in the writing of W. H. Dawe. kofta is a borrowing from Hindi. Etymons: Hindi kofta.
  3. ^ Stevenson, Angus; Waite, Maurice, eds. (18 August 2011). "kofta". Concise Oxford English Dictionary: Luxury Edition (12th ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 790. ISBN 978-0-19-960111-0.
  4. ^ Origin of Kofte ,Turkish köfte Arabic kufta and Hindi and Urdu koftā all from Persian kōfta (Persian kūfte) from passive participle of kōftan to pound, bray.
  5. ^ Nuṣratī, Mullā (1665). ʿAlī Nāma علی نامہ (in Urdu). p. 234. Na tha har ġalūla nibolī te kam / Rakhe kofte [pl.] bār golīyāṅ te jam
  6. ^ Fatehpuri, Farman, ed. (June 1993) [22 vols pub. 1977–2010]. "kofta" کوفتہ. Urdu Lughat (Tareekhi Usool Par) [Urdu Dictionary on Historical Principles] (in Urdu). Vol. 15. Urdu Dictionary Board.
  7. ^ Shurreef, Jaffur (1832). "Appendix". Qanoon-e-Islam قانونِ اسلام [The Customs of the Moosulmans of India; Comprising a Full and Exact Account of Their Various Rites and Ceremonies, from the Moment of Birth Till the Hour of Death] (in Urdu). Translated by Herklots, Gerhard Andreas. London, England: Parbury, Allen, and Co. p. xxx. pp. xxvii, xxx: V. Moosulman [Muslim] Cookery, (including the various Dishes alluded to in this Work). 1. Polaoos پلاؤ. ... Kofta Polaoo کوفتہ پلاؤ.
  8. ^ Wise, James (1883). "Nán-baí, Roṭi-wálah". Notes on the Races, Castes and Trades of Eastern Bengal. London, England: Harrison and Sons. p. 97. [The Nān-bāʾī's] bill of fare includes a delicious, richly-flavoured curry, Kofta, or pounded meat, roasts, and puláos. ... Koftá—hashed or pounded, and fried in Ghí.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Davidson, Alan (2014). The Oxford Companion to Food. Tom Jaine, Soun Vannithone (3rd ed.). New York, NY. p. 448. ISBN 978-0-19-967733-7. OCLC 890807357.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  10. ^ a b Herbst, Ron (2015). The deluxe food lover's companion. Sharon Tyler Herbst (2nd ed.). Hauppauge, New York. pp. 261–262. ISBN 978-1-4380-7621-8. OCLC 909914756.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  11. ^ Sally Grainger, Cooking Apicius: Roman Recipes for Today, Prospect Books, 2006, ISBN 1-903018-44-7, p. 17-18
  12. ^ a b c Brown, Ellen (2020). Meatballs : the ultimate cookbook (First ed.). Kennebunkport, Maine. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-64643-014-7. OCLC 1139766078.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  13. ^ a b c d e Dea, Cynthia (9 March 2015). "Where to Find the Best Meatballs in Los Angeles". KCET. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  14. ^ a b c d Tsaturyan, Ruzanna (23 June 2017). "A culinary conflict in the South Caucasus". OpenDemocracy. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  15. ^ Achaya, K. T. (December 1997). Indian Food Tradition A Historical Companion. Oxford University Press. p. 54. ISBN 0195644166.
  16. ^ Fatima, Bushra (30 June 2015). "Pakistanis' love for the succulent kofta curry". The Express Tribune. Archived from the original on 10 July 2020. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  17. ^ "Chiftele | Traditional Meatballs From Romania". Atlas Media. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  18. ^ a b Akın, Engin (2015). Essential Turkish cuisine : 200 recipes for small plates and family meals. Helen Cathcart. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, an imprint of Abrams. p. 67. ISBN 978-1-61312-871-8. OCLC 921994379.
  19. ^ Edelstein, Sari (2010). Food, Cuisine, and Cultural Competency for Culinary, Hospitality, and Nutrition Professionals. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. p. 594. ISBN 9781449618117.
  20. ^ Baboian, Rose. Armenian Cooking: Today's Version of Ancient Cuisine. Hippocrene Books, 1984.
  21. ^ Petrosian, Irina, and David Underwood. Armenian Food: Fact, Fiction & Folklore. University of California Press, 2006.
  22. ^ Abdel Fattah, Iman Adel (5 December 2013). "Bites Fil Beit: Koftet el Gambari – Shrimp kofta". Daily News Egypt. Archived from the original on 3 May 2015. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  23. ^ a b Fatima, Bushra (30 June 2015). "Pakistanis' love for the succulent kofta curry". The Express Tribune. Archived from the original on 10 July 2020. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  24. ^ Başan, Ghillie (2021). The Turkish cookbook : exploring the food of a timeless cuisine. [London]. ISBN 978-0-7548-3515-8. OCLC 1202053063.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  25. ^ #kabab #orekh #antableh #armenian #food #recipe #homemade- Youtube
  26. ^ "طرز تهیه کوفته و انواع آن در شهرهای ایران". Kojaro.
  27. ^ "Malai Kofta Recipe". Swasthi's Recipes. 27 August 2017.
  28. ^ Achaya, K. T. (December 1997). Indian Food Tradition A Historical Companion. Oxford University Press. p. 54. ISBN 0195644166.
  29. ^ Aglaia Kremezi and Anissa Hellou, 'What's in the Name of the Dish' in Richard Hosking (ed.), Food and Language: Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cooking 2009 (London: Prospect Books, 2010) 206