Kibbeh is famous for being the typical dish of Lebanon. Although also in Syria and Iraq it is considered an important exponent of the gastronomy of these nations. Its name derives from the Arabic word "Kubbeh" which means "ball". Indeed, the words kibbeh, kibbe, kebbah, kubbeh, kubbah, or kubbi are used to refer to a croquette stuffed with minced meat, made with bulgur wheat, semolina, vegetables, and spices.
The meats most used to prepare kibbeh are lamb, as in our recipe. And secondly, veal. Although there are some more recent versions made with turkey or chicken. Lebanon's traditional kibbeh is made primarily from lamb meat.
Although it may seem like a simple recipe, it has its complexity and technique. If you want to learn how to kibbeh like an expert, read on.
The traditional filling is prepared with lamb meat, a mixture of aromatic herbs, nuts (raisins, prunes, apricots), and pine nuts or almonds.
How is the Kibbeh made?
Kibbeh, in culinary terms, is a stuffed croquette. To make the crust of the Kibbeh, the wheat is hydrated, and vigorously kneaded with well-ground lamb meat and spices. When the dough has a perfect consistency, a sphere is formed, and carefully a hole is made in the center. This is done by turning the dough in your hand and shaping the cavity at the same time. This hollow crust is stuffed with meat stew and fried by dipping it in oil.
The most important thing to obtaining the perfect texture of the Kibbeh is to grind the meat, a minimum of two times. If the meat is not fine enough, the kibbeh may break apart, expelling its filling as it fries.
Kibbeh Cooking Methods
Although we already mentioned that kibbeh is cooked mainly fried, there are other cooking methods for this dish. Naturally, the fried version is crispier and more puffed, but if you want a healthier cooking method, you can also opt for an air fryer, baking, and even grilling with a little oil.
Another less frequent option is to cook it in the sauce as in Kurdistan, where they cook the kibbeh in tamarind or tomato broth.
Spices for Kibbeh
Cumin is essential. In fact, cumin is added to both the crust and the filling. Other spice options are the so-called seven spices. And there are even some countries where you can find “Seasoning for Kibbeh”.
If you do not have the 7-Spice seasoning, since it is a mixture of spices from the Middle East and is not always available in the supermarket. You can make your own spice mix for homemade Kibbeh. You should only mix the following spices in a coffee grinder: black pepper, allspice, white pepper, dried fenugreek (if you can't find it, you can use coriander), cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. If you want, you can do a little more and store it in a dry glass jar for about three months.
So, let's make Kibbeh at home:
KIBBEH: THE TYPICAL DISH OF LEBANON
Mediterranean/ Main Course
1 ¼ cup of fine bulgur, 250 g.
¼ cup fine semolina
1 cup of hot water
1 cup of lamb meat, finely ground, 100 g.
1 egg white, beaten
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon of seven spices
½ teaspoon of salt
2 cups of lamb meat, finely ground, 250 g.
2 onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoon of 7 spices
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
30 g pine nuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups of oil for frying
For the filling
First, you must prepare the filling and let it rest for a few minutes so that it is ready when filling the kibbeh. Place the oil in a large skillet, and turn the stove to medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions, and the crushed garlic. Cook for two minutes until the onion turns transparent.
Then add the meat. Try shredding it with a kitchen trowel. The smaller the pieces of meat, the better.
Add the coriander, cumin, 7-spices, and ground cardamom. Stir and continue cooking until the meat has cooked and there is no liquid in the bottom of the pan. So, add the salt to taste and the pine nuts. Stir one more time and let it rest uncovered while you prepare the Kibbeh crust.
In a large bowl, combine the bulgur and semolina. Stir with a spoon.
Then add a cup of very hot water. Stir with a spoon. Be careful not to try to knead because you can burn yourself. Let this mixture rest for about half an hour, while the wheat hydrates.
When the wheat is hydrated. Knead the wheat vigorously for at least five minutes. Then stir in the meat, egg white, cumin, salt, and 7-spices. If you have a food processor. Blend this mixture for about three minutes. If not, knead vigorously until the dough peels off the edges. You must knead with wet hands.
To form the Kibbeh
Arrange the work surface. Scoop the filling into a bowl with a small spoon. Also, the crust dough and an additional bowl of water to moisten your hands.
Take a piece of dough, the size of a lemon, and form a sphere. Using your thumb, dig and flatten the dough to get the cone shape.
Fill with the meat, leaving a small space to be able to close the kibbeh.
Close the kibbeh, joining the ends of the cone that I form. Then roll it between your hands to form a kibble with slightly pointed ends.
Repeat this procedure until the mixture is gone. Make sure they are all of a similar size.
Place the frying oil in a deep pan, and wait until bubbles begin to emerge from the bottom of the oil. Add the kibbeh and fry in batches. Then leave them resting on a plate lined with absorbent paper until frying.