Kibbeh Nayeh is one of those foods, that like Marmite, you either love or hate with very little in between.
This raw lamb dish is the contribution the Levant has made to a long tradition of eating raw meats around the world.
People have been eating raw meat in countries all over the world forever without any ill effects.
Raw meat dishes like yookhwe (raw beef) from Korea, ossenworst (raw ox) from the Netherlands, steak tartare (raw beef) from France.
Mett (raw pork) from Germany, kifto (raw beef) from Ethiopia, crudos (raw beef) from Chile, carne apache (raw beef) from Mexico, and carpaccio (raw beef) from Italy, to name some, are all enjoyed everyday around the world.
To be honest there was a time in my life when I couldn’t even contemplate eating any kind of meat raw, not even sushi!
I actually started with sushi and moved quickly onto sashimi once I realized what a delight it was!
Carpaccio was probably the first raw meat I tried followed by steak tartare.
Which brought me to the raw Lebanese dish in my own backyard, Kibbeh Nayeh!
It too turned out to be delicious.
What is Kibbeh Nayeh?
Kibbeh nayyeh is ground raw lamb with herbs, spices, and bulgar served with fresh extra virgin olive oil.
Like most things that are served raw, it has a history of being consumed shortly after an animal is butchered.
This would reduce any chance of bacteria having a chance to grow on the fresh meat making it dangerous for consumption.
And of course this is the reason cleanliness and care are paramount for anyone making this dish.
Otherwise, like any other raw dish, there is a chance any contamination will make you sick.
Always follow instructions, and use stringent handling methods when making this dish.
Is it Safe to Eat to Eat Raw Lamb?
Yes it is.
Given that when you make this particular dish that you think clean, clean, clean.
I am very fanatical about making sure everything is ultra clean.
I am a big believer in reducing cross contamination in my kitchen at all times.
It is critical that you do not introduce any bacteria into your food by carelessly preparing raw meat.
Make sure that you are working with very freshly cut meat, a clean grinder, clean food processor with clean blades and a spotless working space.
I even use sterile latex gloves when I mix the ingredients.
How to Make Kibbeh Nayeh
Start with a boneless freshly cut leg of lamb from the upper part of the leg, and as lean as possible.
Cut the meat into strips so that they more easily grind in the grinder.
Grind the meat twice to make sure it is well processed and very tender.
Soak the bulgar in cold water, set aside, place the ground lamb into a large bowl.
Into a food processor I add mint leaves, white onions, salt, pepper, spices with soaked bulgar.
Keep a small bowl of ice water nearby in case you need to add a little to the mixture.
I like to substitute red pepper flakes instead of black pepper for extra spiciness.
Process until the ingredients are well mixed and add to the bowl of meat.
Dip your hands into the minced lamb mix and knead the mixture.
Once well mixed, plate it up making a nice oval shaped mound of meat.
Using a spoon make ridges along the top as a way to decorate, and of course this can be done in whatever way you choose.
Garnish with mint, parsley, peppers, lemons, and include a garlic spread in a small bowl on the side.
Serve with pita bread, and enjoy this Middle Eastern delight.
Kibbeh Nayeh Recipe
- 1 lb Ground Lamb
- ¼ cup Burghul
- 1 Onion
- 25 Mint Leaves
- ½ tsp Seven Spices
- ½ tsp Crushed Red Pepper
- 1 tsp Salt
- ½ tsp Cinnamon
- Place the burghul in a bowl and cover with ½ cup hot water, set aside to soak and absorb the water.
- In a food processor combine mint leaves, spices, pepper, salt and chopped onion.
- Add the burghul after it has soaked up the water. Be sure that it is not soggy by squeezing any excess water out.
- Process until everything is mixed well and the mint leaves are chopped up.
- Place the ground lamb in a large bowl, add all ingredients from the food processor, mix well using your hands. (I use sterile gloves when I do this part).
- Once mixed, place on a serving dish and decorate using a spoon to make small grooves in the meat.
- Garnish with your choice of chopped parsley, mint leaves, red peppers, lemon, and even garlic.