Kafta bil Sanieh is a delicious Lebanese baked casserole made with layers of ground meat patties, potatoes, onions and tomatoes in a spiced tomato sauce. Best served with Riz bi sharieh, fresh pita bread and green salad.
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. I then went hunting for more variations and found that the ingredients remained the same but method differed.
What is Kafta bil Sanieh?
Kafta or kofta refers to the Lebanese ground meat mixture made with beef, lamb or even chicken mixed with onion, parsley and some kind of Arabic spice mix. A Kafta recipe can be used differently in different recipes. For instance, kafta is used to make meatballs in a stew, shape and grill on skewers or spread inside arayes.
Sanieh, Saniyeh, siniyyeh, saneyeh, sinia, siniyah, etc. are all Arabic words for "pan" or "tray". Kafta bil Sanieh roughly translates to "Meat in a tray". I chose to call this a Casserole as this is baked and served in the same dish.
This dish is made with Lebanese kafta recipe layered with potato, onion, tomato and baked. Some recipes call for eggplant along with potatoes and some skip the onions. Kafta bil Sanieh is best served with Lebanese rice or fresh pita bread.
- Ground meat: I have tried this with minced beef and chicken too. You can use any ground lamb or mix of beef and lamb.
- Veggies: You will need red onion, potatoes and tomatoes and fresh parsley. Garlic cloves and baby marrow are optional.
- Ground spices: You will need cinnamon powder, cumin powder, black pepper powder, and chilli flakes. allspice powder is optional.
- tomato paste
- pomegranate molasses (optional)
- beef bouillon (optional)
See the recipe card below for all the details.
The prep for this Lebanese recipe of baked kafta and potato comes together easily but it needs at least an hour of baking time. For the detailed recipe and print option, please scroll down to Recipe card.
You will start with:
- preparing the Lebanese kafta recipe - refrigerate until needed
- slice potatoes, tomatoes and onions using a mandoline or a sharp knife.
- prepare the tomato sauce
- make thin patties of kafta
- assemble the casserole
Use a shallow or deep ovenproof dish. Assemble Kafta bil sanieh with a layer of prepared kafta.
Top the kafta layer with onion rings and then with potatoes. You may choose to pan-fry or roast the potatoes before using them here.
Lastly, arrange the sliced tomatoes covering the top layer. Preheat the oven to 180 C.
Prepare the spiced tomato sauce with tomato paste and water. Pour the sauce all over to barely cover the top layer.
You may also choose to assemble vertically. For this method, you will first need to shape the meat mixture into patties.
Bake covered in a preheated oven for half the time and then remove the cover and bake until most of the tomato sauce is absorbed and the potatoes are cooked through.
Hint: Though I have included measurements and quantity for each item in the recipe card, you can easily adjust the quantity depending on the size of the pan you use.
- For the first attempt, I made this Kafta Bil Sanieh using minced chicken which I mixed with grated baby marrow (koosa). The process of layering and baking is so interesting that I didn't want to wait until I got minced beef.
- 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.
Honestly, all three versions tasted pretty much the same and went great with some fresh pita and vermicelli rice! For those of you who don't trust a recipe with minimum ingredients, don't skip the optional ingredients.
Looking for other recipes using ground beef or lamb? Try these:
Kafta bil Sanieh | Baked Kofta with Potatoes and Tomatoes
For Kafta (ground meat mixture)
- 500 grams ground beef (ground lamb or chicken)
- 1 small red onion grated
- 2 garlic cloves minced (optional)
- fresh parsley
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
- ¼ teaspoon allspice powder optional
- ¼ teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
- 1 large red onion thinly sliced into roundels
- 400 grams potatoes 4 medium-sized, sliced into roundels
- 3 to 4 medium-sized tomatoes sliced into roundels
For the tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups water
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses optional
- 1 beef stock cube optional
Prepare the kafta mixture
- Add all the kafta ingredients into a large bowl, and mix lightly using your hands until thoroughly combined.500 grams ground beef, 1 small red onion, 2 garlic cloves, fresh parsley, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder, ¼ teaspoon allspice powder, ¼ teaspoon cumin powder, 1 teaspoon black pepper powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
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.2 tablespoons tomato paste, 2 cups water, 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses, 1 beef stock cube, salt and pepper to taste
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.400 grams potatoes
- 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.1 large red onion
- Place the sliced potatoes over the onions.
- Place the sliced tomatoes over the potatoes. Lastly, pour the prepared tomato sauce all over the top.3 to 4 medium-sized tomatoes
- 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.
- Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with Pita bread or Vermicelli rice.