Kafta bil Sanieh | Baked Meat patties with Potatoes & Tomatoes

Kafta bil Sanieh, a Lebanese casserole prepared with ground meat patties and roundels of potatoes, onions and tomatoes that are layered and baked in a spiced tomato sauce. Kafta bi-siniyyeh is best served with Riz bi sharieh (vermicelli rice) or fresh pita bread and some fresh green salad.
Lebanese Baked kafta and potatoes


I came across this dish in a Lebanese cookbook— Everyday Lebanese Cooking, where the author Mona Hamdeh calls this dish Kafta Saneyeh. The recipe reminded me of Daoud Basha but Kafta Sanieh is way easier and prettier! I had to try it for the love of potatoes! We loved it so much that I went looking for more variations over the internet and found the dish is made with the same components but with different methods. 

For the first attempt, I did not follow the book recipe instead used the idea to make it with chicken! 😁The process of layering and baking was so interesting so I didn't want to wait until I get minced beef. Instead, I made this Kafta Bil Sanieh using minced chicken that I mixed with grated baby marrow (koosa). The second time I referred to Every Little Crumb and Cooking with Zahra and adapted their method of pan-frying or roasting the potatoes before layering. An added step but who doesn't like fried potatoes! For my third attempt, I went with Dina's Kitchen method of shaping the kafta into patties and arranging the roundels of onion, potatoes and tomatoes into clusters vertically instead of horizontal layers. 

Which method is the best? Honestly, all of them tasted pretty much the same and went great with pita bread or vermicelli rice (my fav). I have indicated some ingredients as optional and I can assure you they are best omitted. But I know some people don't trust a recipe with minimum ingredients. So you do you, but don't underestimate the power of simple recipes. 

Lebanese Baked kafta and potatoes

So, what is Kafta bil Sanieh? 

Kafta is a ground meat mixture made usually with onion, parsley and seasoned with Arabic spice and Sanieh, Saniyeh, siniyyeh, saneyeh, sinia, siniyah, etc are all Arabic words for "pan" or "tray". The kafta mixture can be used for most middle eastern meatballs recipes. I chose to call this a Casserole as this is baked and served in the same dish. Some families use eggplant along with potatoes and some skip the onions. Kafta bil Sanieh is best served with rice or pita bread. 

How to make kafta bi-siniyyeh?

The prep for this Lebanese recipe of baked kafta and potato comes together easily but it needs at least an hour of baking time. The dish starts with a layer of prepared kafta, topped with onion rings, then potatoes and lastly tomatoes arranged in a shallow or deep ovenproof dish. Frying or roasting the potatoes are optional. A seasoned and spiced tomato sauce made with tomato paste and water is poured all over enough to barely cover the top layer. Baked in a preheated oven until most of the tomato sauce is absorbed and potatoes are cooked through. Serve along with rice or pita bread with some salad and yoghurt. Though I have included measurements and quantity for each item, you can easily adjust the quantity depending on the size of the pan you use. 

step by step collage of Lebanese kafta bil sanieh
First attempt with minced chicken and baby marrow ( I skipped the onions here)

step by step collage of Lebanese kafta bil sanieh
Second attempt with pan-fried potato slices

Lebanese kafta bil sanieh
the third attempt assembled differently

Kafta bil Sanieh Recipe 
Lebanese Baked Kafta with Potatoes and Tomatoes
Prep time: 25mins
Cooking time: 1.5 hours

Lebanese kafta bil sanieh

INGREDIENTS

For Kafta (ground meat mixture):
  • 500gms minced beef or lamb or chicken
  • 2 small baby marrow aka koosa, grated and squeezed out (optional)
  • 1 small-sized red onion, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
  • a handful of freshly chopped parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice powder (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper powder 
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
For assembling:
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced into roundels
  • 400gms potatoes (4 medium-sized), sliced into roundels
  • 3 to 4 medium-sized tomatoes, sliced into roundels 
For the tomato sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • approx. 2 cups of water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (optional)
  • 1 cube beef bouillon (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Prepare the kafta mixture: Add all the kafta ingredients into a large bowl, and mix lightly using your hands until thoroughly combined. 
  2. Prepare the tomato sauce: Whisk the tomato paste with a little water until no lumps. Add the rest of the water and season with salt and pepper. If using a bouillon cube, use warm water for the sauce. 
  3. Assemble the casserole dish: If roasting or pan-frying the potatoes, do that first. If using raw, I would suggest that you soak the sliced potatoes until needed. Preheat the oven to 200℃. Spread the kafta mixture evenly onto the base of a 9x13 ovenproof dish. Place the sliced onion rings covering all the kafta. Place the sliced potatoes over the onions. Place the sliced tomatoes over the potatoes. Lastly, pour the prepared tomato sauce all over the top. 
  4. Bake: Cover the dish with foil and bake in the middle rack of the preheated oven for at least 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the foil and reduce the temperature to 180℃ and cook for at least an hour. The dish is done when the potatoes are cooked through and most of the sauce is absorbed.
  5. Serve: Garnish with chopped parsley and is served with Pita bread or Vermicelli rice
Lebanese kafta bil sanieh with chicken

If you’ve tried this baked kafta with potatoes and tomatoes recipe or any other recipe on But First Chai, then don’t forget to leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share them with me on Instagram so I can repost them on my Stories! Thank you!

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