Kofta (see section Name for other names) is a meatball or meatloaf and is a part of Jordanian, Albanian, Afghan, Azerbaijani, Arab, Armenian, Balkan, Bangladeshi, Greek, Indian, Israeli, Iranian, Kurdish, Pakistani and Turkish cuisine. In the simplest form, koftas consist of balls of minced or ground meat—usually beef or lamb—mixed with spices and/or onions. In Bangladesh, Pakistan, Turkey and Iran, koftas are usually made of lamb, beef, mutton or chicken, whereas Greek and Cypriot varieties are usually made of pork, beef, veal or mixtures of them.
In India, vegetarian varieties include koftas made of potato, calabash, paneer or banana. Koftas in India are normally cooked in a spicy curry/gravy and are served with boiled rice and a variety of Indian breads. In Iran, Iraq and Azerbaijan, koftas are served with a spiced gravy, as dry versions are considered to be kebabs. Shrimp and fish koftas are found in South India and West Bengal, in some parts of the Persian Gulf states, and parts of Egypt.
The meat is often mixed with other ingredients such as rice, bulgur, vegetables, or eggs to form a smooth paste. They can be grilled, fried, steamed, poached, baked or marinated, and may be served with a rich spicy sauce. Koftas are sometimes made with fish or vegetables rather than red meat, especially in India; deep-fried kofta made from shrimp is known in Egypt. Variations occur in North Africa, the Mediterranean, Balkans, and India. According to a 2005 study done by a private food company, there were 291 different kinds of kofta in Turkey.  In Arab countries, kufta is usually shaped into cigar-shaped cylinders.
Early recipes (included in some of the earliest known Arabic cookbooks) generally concern seasoned lamb rolled into orange-sized balls, and glazed with egg yolk and sometimes saffron. This method was taken to the West and is referred to as gilding, or endoring. Many regional variations exist, notable among them the unusually large Azerbaijan (Iran) Tabriz kuftesi, having an average diameter of 20 cm, (8 in). and despite its association with Iran.
In Central Asia kofta is cooked with liberal amounts of tail fat. Koftas were introduced in South Asia following the Turkic conquests in the region, particularly by the Mughals. Koftas in Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani cuisine are normally cooked in a spiced gravy, or curry, and sometimes simmered with hard boiled eggs. Kofta dishes are very popular with immigrants from the Indian Subcontinent to the U.K., and are widely available from many and Indian restaurants. Vegetarian koftas are eaten by a large population in India. The British dish Scotch egg may have been inspired by the Mughlai dish nargisi kofta ("narcissus kofta"), where hard-boiled eggs are encased in a layer of spicy kofta meat. In Bengal, a region of eastern India, koftas are made with prawns, fish, green bananas, cabbage, as well as minced goat meat. In Kashmir, mutton is often used in the preparation of koftas, as opposed to beef or lamb.
In Lebanese cuisine, kafta is usually prepared by mixing the ground beef with onion, parsley, allspice, black pepper and salt.
In Moroccan cuisine, kufta may be prepared in a tagine.
In Albania they are usually made from beef, veal, pork or a mixture of them. They are usually served with Meze or Tarator. They are very popular all around Albania and there are many small shops called Qofteri which offer Qofte and also serve beer.
Origin of the word kofta is unknown, many argue this word comes from Classical Persian kōfta (کوفته), meaning "rissole", from the verb kōftan (کوفتن), meaning "to beat" or "to grind", hence grinding the meat of the meatball. But some[who?] believe the word kofta comes from Greek sykopton (σύκοπτον), meaning "minced", from the verb kopto (κόπτω), meaning "to grind", hence grinding the meat of the meatball.
- Afghanistan: کوفته (kofta)
- Albania: qofte
- Arab countries: كفته (kufta in standard Arabic & most dialects; kafta)
- Armenia: քյուֆթա (kyuft’a)
- Azerbaijan: küftə
- Bangladesh: kofta
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: ćufta
- Bulgaria: кюфте (kyufte)
- Croatia: ćufta
- Georgia: კუტლეტი (often served with sour plum sauce)
- Greece: κεφτές (keftés)
- Israel: כופתא (kufta)
- India: कोफ़्ता (kofta)
- Iran: کوفته (kufteh)
- Kurdistan: کفته (kefta)
- Macedonia: ќофте (kjofte)
- Pakistan: كوفته (kofta)
- Romania: chiftea
- Serbia: ћуфтa (ćufta) or ћуфтe (ćufte)
- Slovenia: čufta
- Turkey: köfte
- Abdel Fattah, Iman Adel (5 December 2013). "Bites Fil Beit: Koftet el Gambari – Shrimp kofta". Daily News Egypt. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
- Inegol Koftesi
- Oxford Companion to Food, s.v. kofta
- Jill Tilsley-Benham, ""Sheep with Two Tails: Sheep's Tail-Fat as Cooking Medium in the Middle East", In: Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery, 1986: The Cooking Medium, p. 48
- Hinkhoj.com: Meaning of "Nargisis" in Hindi Retrieved 2013-01-28
- Oxford Companion to Food, s.v. kofta and Scotch egg
- Alan S. Kaye, "Persian loanwords in English", English Today 20:20-24 (2004), doi:10.1017/S0266078404004043.
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