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More ethnic food tastes worth acquiring: Kitfo

Photo by Manogamo/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Since our list of unsung ethnic delicacies this week has so far focused on meat - most recently, raw meat - why stop now?

A couple of different colleagues lately have praised the virtues of raw Ethiopian kitfo, a spicy relative of steak tartare and its global cousins, among them the Armenian-style chee kufta featured yesterday.

Kitfo is quite unlike the simpler chee kufta and its Lebanese cousin, kibbeh nayyeh. The dish is made from minced lean beef that has been flavored with an elaborate spice blend containing chili peppers and fragrant spices, among them cardamom and cloves, and with seasoned clarified butter. It's typically served with flat injera bread and a mild cheese, which balances the spice.

With its complex seasonings, the dish tends to surprise those who didn't grow up with it, but grow to like it. Here is what Elahe Izadi, one of my NPR Argo Network colleagues from WAMU's DCentric blog, had to say about her first kitfo experience:


More ethnic food tastes worth acquiring: Chee kufta

Photo by anitasarkeesian/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A parsley-laden dish of chee kufta

This week, Multi-American is again exploring the unsung ethnic delicacies that may not sound or look like much, but are worth a try. And for whatever reason, people are suggesting meat dishes this time around.

Today's suggestion comes from blog contributor Lory Tatoulian, and it's not for the faint-hearted. Chee kufta, a raw meat dish, is what she describes as something that "sounds risky but tastes delicious."

The dish is popular in Armenian and Turkish cuisines as an appetizer and consists of ground beef or lamb that is mixed with fine wheat bulghur and seasonings, which in the typical Armenian preparation consist of red and black pepper, water and salt. It is then garnished with scallions, parsley and a generous amount of olive oil.

Here's how Lory describes a good chee kufta:

The redder the meat, the more delectable. It is best to use zero percent fat meat, and there should absolutely be no fat or no tendons in the patty. Chee kufta can be eaten with Akh Makh cracker bread, but it is best eaten when your mom is preparing it in the kitchen and hands you a small sample to ask if more or less salt is needed.