Armenian Steak Tartare (Chee Kufta)

"This is a mouth watering awesome Armenian style steak tartare called Chee kufta by my Aunt Sophie. She made this for me special when I was visiting her, which was very often! It's important to use very, very lean beef and make sure you have the butcher ground it very fine, twice. Knead it as recipe says to: 5 minutes! No, you won't get sick if you prepare it correctly!"
photo by Mark Marcarian photo by Mark Marcarian
photo by Mark Marcarian
Ready In:
1 large plate




  • Combine vegetables and basil together and mix well.
  • In a large bowl combine 2 cups of chopped vegetables and mix the bulgur, water, tomato sauce and salt.
  • Mix well and let stand 10 minutes.
  • Add meat and blend well.
  • Knead about 5 minutes, moistening your hands with cold water at intervals.
  • Taste for salt.
  • Add more if necessary.
  • Shape as desired and place on platter.
  • We liked it squished flat with a fork and spread liberally with fresh chopped parsley and green onions as garnish.
  • Eat with pita bread or crusty french bread, YUM!

Questions & Replies

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  1. Hi Mark...Although I know Basil is a staple in alot of Armenian dishes, I've never heard of it being used in chee kufta. Although I'm sure it works well...will have to try it. Funny, I was cutting up a beef tenderloin for shish kabob yesterday and just seeing that glorious chunk of meat in front of me made me crave chee I cut off a chunk and made a quick batch for myself(a plate of maybe 10). I don't make it often, only because my husband can't grasp the idea of eating raw meat...although he tried it once and loved it before he knew what it was(I know,should of never told him)! Anyway, when I saw your recipe it reminded me of yesterdays chee kufta fix! Would you happen to have the recipe for harissa? Not the pastry, but the barley and meat dish...can't find it anywhere. Did I mention that I'm a fellow armenian???LOL


  1. Chi Kufte (Armenian Steak Tartare) Serves 6 Salata (salad): 1 green Italian pepper, chopped 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped 4 plum tomatoes, chopped 4 scallions, sliced 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley 1 tsp. paprika 1/4 cup lemon juice 2 T. olive oil 1 tsp. sumac (optional) Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper Chi Kufte: 1 1/2 cup grade #1 fine bulgur (cracked wheat) 1 1/2 cups cold water, plus more as needed 1 1/2 lbs very fresh top round, trimmed of all fat and ground four times until fine like a paste 1 T. plus 1 tsp. kosher salt 1 T. paprika 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper 3/4 cup sliced scallions 1/2 cup plus 1 T. chopped curly parsley Garnish: Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving (optional) For the salata, mix together all the ingredients and set aside until service. Fill a small bowl with some water to use to wet your hands as needed during the mixing and shaping process. In a large mixing bowl, soak the bulgur with the 1 1/2 cups cold water for about 15 minutes until absorbed but still wet. Add the meat and mix thoroughly with your hands. Season with salt, paprika, and pepper and mix well.  Mix in 1/4 cup scallions and 1/4 cup chopped parsley. To shape the kufte*, dip your hands in the water and grab a small handful of the mixture. Form it into a ball and then lightly begin to make a fist with your hand to make it a bit more oblong (but not completely flat) and leave finger imprints on one side. Place on a serving dish, dip your hands in water and repeat the process until all of the mixture has been used to form kuftes. Garnish with the remaining green onions and parsley and serve.


A professional actor from Philly, Mark is half Armenian and of the first generation born in this country. Growing up with his aunts (Sophie & Louise) who would make Armenian food he loved and loves even more to this day! During the Armenian Diaspora his moved to France. As a result of the family history and learning to cook the food, Mark's passion is Armenian. In addition he has adapted the Armenian to American ways of cooking and created a BBQ style with an Armenian flare.
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