Here’s a Middle Eastern favourite that I think remains grossly under-rated in other parts of the world. It’s a distant cousin of Felafel and Italian Arancini, and a kissing cousin of Turkish Kofteh and, yes, even Scotch Eggs! But it has its own distinct character and it’s really easy to make.
Like so many other Mediterranean classics, Kibbeh is a street food that’s recently found its way onto sit-down menus as the popularity of ethnic cuisine soars. it’s easy to make and can be served in a variety of ways, with a variety of accompaniments!
Kibbeh is, essentially, spiced Ground Meat stuffed into a Bulgar Wheat crust and formed into football-shaped meatballs. It’s traditionally deep-fried but can be baked or even poached in Soup like Matso Balls!
Let’s make some…
The crust consists of well-soaked Bulgur Wheat combined with finely chopped Onion and generous seasonings of Salt and Pepper. Simple. Just be sure to let the Wheat soak long enough to get a little starchy, and then squeeze excess water out using a clean towel. You’ll want to place about a quarter of the crust mixture in a blender or food processor and buzz it into a paste, so the crust will stick together properly. Mix the paste back into the rest of the Wheat mixture and set aside.
The traditional filling recipe uses Ground Lamb. But I’ve settled (successfully!) for Ground Veal or even Ground Turkey on occasion. Add to 1 lb / 500 g of meat, a teaspoon of Ground Allspice and a nice pinch of Ground Cumin. Cook a medium Onion, finely chopped, on medium heat in some Olive Oil and then add the ground meat. Brown, stirring constantly to break up into fine scramble. Set aside to cool completely before assembling the Kibbehs.
Take a golf ball-sized blob of crust mix and form into a ball. Gently insert a finger to form a pocket. Stuff the pocket with a generous amount of meat mixture, but not so much that the crust cannot be easily pinched closed around it. Repeat until all the crust and filling mix are used up.
Deep fry for ten minutes or so in cool (350 F) Oil or pan fry until well-browned. Serve hot with any Middle eastern dip of your choice, over rice or stewed Chick Peas. And don’t forget to try the classic street food presentation: with Rice in a Pita!
Enjoy Kibbeh and explore the possibilities of using other spices or veggies. Just don’t leave out the Onions or Allspice!
~ Maggie J.