“Kofte na kromid” or kofte on onion. “Kofte” or “kyfte” or “chufte” is what we call kofta or meatballs and there are countless variations of them across the Balkans. Kofte are often flavoured heavily with vegetables, spices, herbs, and breadcrumbs (or stale bread) as it is a clever way of stretching meat a little further.

This version is one of my absolute favourites. It is broadly how my mother made them for me so I have a deep love for this dish, a love I have passed on to my son, so this dish makes a frequent appearance in the Balkan Kitchen.

I would suggest you seek out the best meat you can, and if you are able to, ask your butcher to double mince it for you, as that will give you a better texture and allow you to really distribute to flavour through the meat.

The onions are traditionally fried, but I like to bake them as I find it faster and easier and believe you get a beautiful caramelisation and sweetness out of the onions by baking.  

There is a similar variation called “Pasha Kofte” which is with rice (unlike the Turkish Pasha Kofte which are stuffed kofte), and I will share this with you soon. In the meantime, I do hope you try and enjoy these.  

Ingredients

  • For the onions
  • 2-3 medium white onions, sliced in half moons

  • 2 tbsp tomato puree (or 1 grated tomato + 1 tbsp tomato puree)

  • 3-4 bay leaves

  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 25g unsalted butter, cubed

  • 50-100 ml water

  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

  • For the kofte
  • 500g lean beef mince

  • 1 medium egg

  • 1 medium white onion, finely chopped or grated

  • 1 tsp dry oregano

  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika

  • 1 tbsp tomato puree

  • 4-5 tbsp breadcrumbs

  • 3-4 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

  • 2-3 tbsp sunflower (or other neutral oil), for frying

Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 180C (electric).
  • Prepare the onions. Slice the onions in half moons and place in a large baking dish. Add all the other ingredients for the onions, stir to coat and add a splash of water (approximately 50 -100 ml). Cover with foil and bake in the oven for approximately 40 minutes until the onions are soft and starting to slightly caramelise. Check the onions half way through baking, stir and add another splash of water if they are too dry.
  • While your onions are baking, prepare the kofte. Mix all the kofte ingredients together and combine well (I use my hands as it tenderises the meat and ensures everything is well combined). Shape the mince into kofte (the measurements here will yield approximately 16-20 golf ball sized kofte). Heat the oil in a large frying pan, and brown your kofte (you are sealing them and giving them a little bit of colour rather than cooking them through). Then place them in the baking dish over the onions. Bake the kofte and the onions together (uncovered) for a further 30-40 minutes until they are beautifully browned.
  • Serve with fresh chopped herbs of your choice, and enjoy with fresh salads, bread, pasta, rice or other accompaniments of your choice.