Iraqi Kufta Tabsi

This is a traditional Iraqi quick dish that I grow up with and love. It is so versatile and really tasty. You can make it vegetarian, use fish, chicken or red meat. I am using mince meat shaped into large balls – Kufta.


I am not sure what the word tabsi mean or where it originates from. This dish is like a casserole in tomato juice. The main ingredients that makes a tabsi are; aubergine, potatoes, onions and tomato. The distinct flavour is not only the tomato but the slight sourness (that you can adjust to your liking) caused by adding pomegranate molasses.

There are two steps to this dish that may seem complicated but honestly it is simple. First step is shallow fry, second step is oven bake.

Note: this dish is for 4 people increase amount of vegetables and meat as desired. You can add other vegetables such as bell peppers and carrots, mushrooms, courgettes  etc

All meat must be cooked before layering into the casserole.

If you would like to have more juice add more water/ sauce .


1 large onion

1 large tomato

1 large aubergine

4 potatoes

Sunflower oil for frying

1/4 kg mince meat

handful of finally chopped parsley

1 teaspoon of cumin or seven spice


2 table spoons of tomato puree

1 table spoon of pomegranate molasses

1/2 table spoon of sugar

juice of half a lemon



Step 1- Peal the potatoes, onions, and aubergine (leaving few strips of skin on) then cut them along with the tomato into discs (the thickness depends on the size of your tabsi / casserole dish)

Step 2- Shallow fry all the vegetables and set aside.

Step 3- Mix the mince meat with the chopped parsley, spices and seasoning. Then divide and roll into large balls.

Step 4- Shallow fry the meat balls slightly so they are just cooked on the outside. Over cooking will make them dry.

Step 5- In a casserole start layering all the ingredients. Tomatoes need to be the last layer.  I placed the potatoes first since they hold their shape more.

Step 6- Make the tomato sauce by mixing the tomato puree in a bowl with pomegranate molasses, sugar, lemon juice and seasoning. Then add a cup of water and keep mixing.

Step 7- Pour the tomato sauce on top of the layers vegetables and meat. Place in the oven 180C for 30 minute for until meat is cooked.

Step 8- Garnish with chopped parsley and serve hot.



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