Kibbeh (Lebanese Meatballs)

Kibbeh is a Lebanese recipe that comes in many shapes and forms, but if you've ever discussed food with a Lebanese person you know that the discussion always comes back to kibbeh. I've mentioned before that I myself am Lebanese-American (half, actually, on my dad's side) and grew up eating this dish. It is basically a Middle Eastern meatloaf mix that is usually made with lamb and instead of breadcrumbs the meat is "stretched" by adding bulgur wheat. There are also vegetarian versions, such as pumpkin kibbeh or potato kibbeh, which are commonly eaten during lent. Today I made meatballs for staff lunch but served them as mini kofta kebobs at a small appetizer party this evening. When I was growing up, though, we didn't eat any of the fore-said versions, our family ate it two ways (that I recall)...baked and stuffed, sort of like a flat meatloaf, or raw, which is called kibbeh nayyeh. Yup raw. Sounds gross to some but my mouth salivates now as I recall it (think of a lamb version of steak tartar). But sadly, in the age in which we live, I haven't had raw kibbeh in years and I'm not sure I would eat some if it were offered to me. Below is a basic recipe, as is a recipe on how to cook it into rice to make a complete meal. But of course I deviated form the recipe when I made this today (don't I always). Today, in addition to the ingredients listed in the recipe (for kibbeh) I also added a bit of cumin, cinnamon, cooked and chopped spinach, and a handful of crumbled feta, simply because I had it on hand. Once the basic recipe is made you can use it for meatballs, skewers, burgers, or add it to sauces, soups, or get the picture. Anyhow, if you like simple-to-make but super-delicious foods, then try this recipe. won't be sorry, and likely hooked on first bite.

To read more about Lebanese cuisine click here (it's an article I wrote for Sally's Place some years can tell it's dated by the picture; my son was a toddler and I had a full head of hair).

Kibbeh Meatballs
1/2 cup medium bulgur wheat
3/4 pound boneless lamb, diced
1/2 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 small bunch mint, minced

Place the bulgur in a bowl, cover with warm water and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Drain and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Place the bulgur along with the rest of the ingredients in a food processor and process for 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then process for another 20 or 30 seconds, or until a smooth paste. (You can also use ground lamb and mix the ingredients together for a courser texture.) Stir in the mint, remove the meat from the bowl, shape into small balls and refrigerate for 1/2 hour. Bake, fry, saute, or poach the kibbeh and serve with yogurt sauce.

Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce
1-1/2 cups
1 cup yogurt
1 small cucumber, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small bunch mint, minced
 1/4 small onion, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all of the ingredients in a small glass or ceramic bowl, cover securely and refrigerate for 1 hour. 

Lebanese-Style Rice with Vermicelli and Kibbeh Meatballs
Yield: 4 servings
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 small onion, diced
2 ounces vermicelli, broken into 1-inch pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups long grain rice
3 cups hot chicken broth
1 recipe kibbeh (recipe follows)
1/4 cup minced parsley
Yogurt sauce for garnish

In a heavy skillet combine the olive oil, onion, and vermicelli. Place the pan over medium heat and cook, while stirring, until the onion and vermicelli begin to brown. Add the garlic, cinnamon, allspice, cumin, and salt; cook another minute, taking care not to burn the pasta or garlic. Stir in the rice, coating it with the oil and spices, then the chicken broth. Add the kibbeh, submerging them in the liquid. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley just before serving, and garnish with yogurt.

Urban Simplicity.


lebanese knows the kibbeh 1000 year
after the Iraqi civilization has create it.for example in the city of mosul they do the kibbeh in more than 20 different way