Sini Kufteh (Oven-Baked Kufteh)

Baked Sini Kufteh

In the past the Armenian Kitchen has prepared kufteh in two ways – heart-healthy, and kufteh deconstructed. One method we haven’t made – until now –  is sini kufteh. Think of it as a kufteh casserole which is fairly easy to make and is great for a buffet.

Sini Kufteh (Oven-baked kufteh)

Shell Ingredients:

Mixing shell ingredients

1 1/2 cups fine (#1) bulgur
1 cup lukewarm water (or just enough to cover bulgur)

2 lb. finely ground beef (or lamb, turkey) – not too lean

1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. Aleppo red pepper
1 tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Meechoog (Filling)

Filling (Meechoog):

1 lb. ground beef, lamb or turkey – not too lean
3 large onions, coarsely chopped
1 bunch parsley, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. Aleppo red pepper
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. allspice
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ to 1/3 cup pine nuts
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions for the shell:                                                   

1. Place the bulgur in a large bowl and cover with warm water. Allow bulgur to absorb the water to soften. Drain excess water, if necessary.
2. Place meat in a large bowl.  Add the bulgur and seasonings to the meat, mixing with your hands until well-combined. If the mixture seems a bit dry, add a little warm water, and mix it in with your hands until you reach your desired the consistency.
3. Divide the mixture into two equal parts. Set aside until ready to use.

Directions for the filling:

1. In a large skillet, cook the meat over medium heat until it is no longer pink. Drain any excess fat. Remove meat from pan.
2. Using the same skillet, melt the butter and add the olive oil. Add onions and cook until onions become soft. Add the seasonings, parsley and cooked meat; cook another 2 minutes; remove from heat and allow filling to cool. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Stir in pine nuts. Set filling aside until ready to use.

Assembling and baking the Sini Kufteh:

1. Use a 13”x 9” baking pan, or a large (10”) round pan or pie pan. Lightly grease the bottom of the pan.
2. Press one portion of the shell mixture into the bottom of the pan, flattening it evenly to fit the shape of the pan.
3. Evenly spread all of the filling over the bottom layer of the shell mixture.

Rolled out top layer of sini kufteh

4. NOTE: Keep a bowl of warm water on hand for this step. Using a large piece of parchment paper or waxed paper, flatten the remaining portion of the shell mixture with your hands or a rolling pin so that it will fit the shape of the pan. Lift the paper with flattened topping and carefully invert it over the filling in the baking pan; gently peel the paper away and lightly press down the top layer. If the top layer cracks or separates, dip your fingers in the bowl of warm water and press the topping back together. Tuck in the edges.

Side view of sini kufteh layers (unbaked)

5. Using a knife that’s been dipped in water, score the top layer into squares or diamond- shaped portions. Brush surface with a little olive oil or melted butter.
6. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 35-40 minutes, or until top is golden brown.

Serve with plain yogurt, and a refreshing chopped salad!
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  1. Anonymous March 17, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    OMG,this looks incredibly good.Lots of meet,yami! Definitely will cook it next week!

  2. Unknown November 3, 2012 at 1:22 am

    I made this today, followed your recipe exactly and it came out perfect. Thank you for putting this site up, for your culinary wisdom and for keeping our Armenian culture alive.

    1. Robyn November 3, 2012 at 1:40 pm

      Thank you so much, Esther. I hope you'll continue to enjoy The Armenian Kitchen recipes and stories!

  3. Dikranagertzi to the bone May 6, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    Hi Robyn,

    You really need to work the shell meat a lot right? Otherwise it will crack? Is using a cuisernart acceptable? I tried making sini kufta (not this exact recipe but very similar) once, the flavor was there but the shell wasn't the right consistency. it didn't really hold together. Suggestions?

    1. Robyn May 6, 2013 at 11:38 pm

      It takes some good, old-fashioned hand work to get the shell just right. Dipping your hands in warm water periodically while manipulating the shell ingredients, is the key to holding it together.
      Skip the Cuisinart – your best bet is to let your hands do the work.

    2. Anonymous May 7, 2013 at 2:20 am

      Thank you! I'll have to give it another go. Is there any way to over work it?

    3. Robyn May 7, 2013 at 3:03 pm

      There's really no way to over work the shell mixture if working it by hand. Just keep it simple, and you'll get the 'feel' you're after. It takes a little practice, but you'll see what I mean. Good luck!

  4. Mel December 6, 2018 at 3:00 am

    My mother in law used to make this for us for Christmas every year, but no one had the recipe. I tried yours last week, but mine turned out too greasy. This week I adjusted the meat/bulgar ratio and it’s delicious! Thank you so much and especially the tip about the parchment paper and rolling pin to make the top layer easier!


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