This Levantine dish of bulgur cracked wheat, minced onions, and spiced meat is made in many shapes, including rounded balls or football-shaped croquettes. Variants on kibbeh are eaten around the Middle East, particularly in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, and Armenia. Carried to Latin America by Levantine immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, kibbeh has been popularized in the United States, particularly in the Midwest and on the East Coast. Kibbeh, of one variety or another, is a staple in meze platters of appetizers; the croquettes can be served independently or cooked in broth and served as dumplings in a soup. Kibbeh nayyeh, a raw dish combining bulgur with finely minced raw meat and spices, is a traditional holiday food in Lebanese communities, although US health policy urges against the consumption of raw meat.
Recipe Servings: 8
- In a medium bowl, place the wheat and cover with cold water. Soak for 30 minutes; then remove and drain through thick paper towel or cheesecloth, squeezing to remove excess fluid.
- In a medium bowl, combine the soaked wheat with 1 pound of the ground meat, the coarsely chopped onion, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper, and mix thoroughly. With a food processor or a mortar and pestle, mix until a dough-like consistency is achieved. Cover the dough and set aside.
- In a medium frying pan, heat oil over medium heat and sauté the finely chopped onion with the pine nuts. Add the remaining ground meat, chopping with a wooden spoon or spatula while cooking to break up lumps. Cook until light brown. Season with allspice, salt, pepper, and cumin. Remove the meat and allow it to cool for 10 minutes after browning.
- Shape an egg-sized piece of the dough into a ball. With a finger, create a pocket in the center for the filling. Add a spoonful of filling, and then pinch the ball closed around it. Repeat about 25 times, until all the dough and filling is used.
- Heat oil in a large, deep frying pan, or in a deep fryer, to 350°F. Fry the kibbeh for about 10 minutes, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels before serving.
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