Providing a substantial flavor of spices with soft and yet crisp textures, this comfort food is delicious when made well.
Bulgur is a form of whole wheat that has been steamed for quick cooking.
It is a very nutritious way of eating the grain and is full of vitamins, niacin and even iron.
The method of turning whole wheat into bulgur has been around for centuries.
It was first discovered to be used in the Mediterranean region.
Bulgur is sometimes used as a substitute for rice in the Middle East, and is very easy and quick to prepare.
What Is Kibbeh?
Kibbeh is an iconic food of the Levant region of the Middle East, and is eaten in many countries in the region.
It is a food that is most often included in a mezze, and eaten with a lot of other little bites.
Coming from the Arabic language, Kibbeh (also spelled kubbeh, or kibbe) means ball.
A very good description indeed, given that is essentially what it is really.
A ball (kind of) of deep fried goodness, with two distinct parts to it.
Being as popular as it was as a hand-held street food, kibbeh made it all the way to South America.
A great success in many countries brought by immigrants.
Brought over in the first waves of many Arab immigrants in the late 1800’s, kibbeh has become a Latin American favorite.
Very popular in Columbia, Brazil and Venezuela, where they are typically made using beef as the meat of choice.
Traditionally, lamb is used in the Middle East which is the preferred protein of the region.
Can I Use Beef Or Chicken Instead?
The type of meat used in making your kibbeh is entirely up to you.
As long as it is lean, finely ground meat, it should work fine and provide you with a tasty kibbeh.
A popular way to make kibbeh is to use beef as the meat for the shell that is mixed with the bulgur.
Chicken kibbeh is a very good modern variation on this dish popular with people who want a lower level of fat.
My preferred meat is lamb, both for the filling and the shell.
How To Make Kibbeh
Start by making the filling first.
This will allow it to cool, making it easier to fill the shells with.
Cook until the meat is well done with the consistency of broken up ground meat.
Set the filling aside.
Make the shell mixture while the filling cools.
Process until all the ingredients are mixed well leaving you with what feels like a dough.
Divide the dough into equal sized balls.
“First we eat, then we do everything else.” – MFK Fisher
Place a ball of kibbeh dough into your left hand, and make a deep indentation in the ball using your thumb.
You want to try and hollow out the ball without going too thin.
Put a spoonful of the filling into the hole you made in the dough and seal the shell around it.
You want it to be about the length of your index finger, fat in the middle and thinner on the ends.
Heat oil for deep frying in a fryer or a pot on the stove.
Once the oil is hot, drop the balls of kibbeh and fry for 7 to 10 minutes until it is golden brown.
As an alternative method that is not deep fried you can make baked kibbeh using the same ingredients.
Just with the addition of a little olive oil, and do it in the oven.
Score the top layer into diamond shapes, press a pine nut into the middle of each diamond.
Brush with olive oil and bake until golden brown.
This method is a much quicker way to make this dish and is most often served as a main meal.
What To Serve It With
This dish is very good as part of a mezze, so lots of other little dishes will compliment it nicely.
Tips For Making
One of the best tips I can give is to have a bowl of water handy when you are shaping the kibbeh.
Wetting your hands will keep the bulgur mixture from sticking.
Also refrigerate the shaped balls for fifteen before frying.
Once done frying allow the kibbeh to drain off any excess oil on a plate lined with paper towels.
After removing from the hot oil let them cool slightly before serving, as the filling will be very hot.
For the Filling
- Place the bulgur in a bowl, cover with boiling water, let sit until all the water is absorbed.
- Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.
- Add and saute the onions until they begin to soften.
- Add the lamb and saute.
- Pour chopped onion in the bowl of a food processor.
- Process to mix onion and spices.
- Add the bulgur and process to mix well, then add the bulgur and mix.
- Add the lamb and process until well mixed.
Stuffing the Kibbeh
- Take a ball od the shell and make a indentation with your thumb.
- Fill the center with the filling, then close of the ball into an American football shape.
- Heat frying oil to 350º and fry for 7 to 10 minutes until golden brown.