In Pictures – Kibbeh

Here are some of the pictures we took on Sunday while we were cooking.


Burghul - Let It Soak
The Main Ingredients
When Meat Meets Burghul
Who Knew Meat Was So Spreadable?
Let the Stuffing Begin!
Beef, Pinenuts, Onions, Spices and Lots o' Love
Meat On Top Of Meat. Genius Idea.
Cutting Those Diamond Shapes Ain't Easy! Pre-Baking.
Fresh Outta The Oven - Golden Brown Yumminess
Best Salad Ever.

Birthday Kibbeh!

Basim - The Early Years (a.k.a. My Dad!)

I want to start off this post by wishing my dad a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I decided to share (without telling him, of course. Hi Dad!!) an old photo of my pops to commemorate this special day.  He was a pretty cute kid, no? And, before I get into the boring food stuff, I just wanted to take a moment to share a little bit about my father.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I think the world of my dad. He is sincerely one of the kindest individuals I’ve ever known, and I’d like to think a lot of my “save the world” shenanigans can be attributed to his influence. He’s a beautiful artist who taught me a lot about the importance of creativity and supporting the arts.  He’s a great cook, a patient (well, somewhat patient) teacher and a awesome human being.

When we were younger, my dad used to take my brother and I over to the Arboretum on Sunday afternoons. We’d pack a small bag with stuff like water, lifesavers and snacks and we’d walk the trails together and explore nature. He called them ‘trust walks’.  There were times we’d meander through the trails with our eyes closed and trust that dad would guide us safely to our next destination.  I remember one such Sunday when I was instructed to open my eyes at our given destination only to discover he’d led me right over to a lizard. Now, I’m not a fan of lizards. I inherited that disdain from my mother, and my irrational reaction to their presence apparently served as great amusement for my father that day.  That little lizard and I were having a staring contest, y’all. We were that close to one another.

I never thought much about that story until now, and those walks really say a lot about my dad. No. Not that he enjoys freaking his children out with the things they fear most. Ok, well maybe a little. Mostly, those moments served as comic relief. They were there to remind us not to take everything so seriously and to enjoy the little things in life. I wish I could say I’ve taken those lessons to heart more than I have, but I suppose it’s never too late to get with the program!

So, in honor of his (undisclosed age) birthday, I decided to make a dish he loves – kibbeh. I have to say I was a bit worried about making this dish. After going through both my mama’s recipe and the recipe in Sahtein, I’d convinced myself this week’s attempt at cooking was going to result in an epic fail. I really wanted to try to make this on my own because it’s kind of lame to have your dad help cook his own birthday dinner. Alas, I needed his help throughout the process.

The recipe I shared last week was pretty spot on and I only  made a few minor changes. Instead of using lamb in the stuffing and beef for the raw kibbeh, I opted to use ground sirloin for the kibbeh stuffing and combination of lean ground beef and ground lamb (1 lb. of each) for the raw mixture. I added all the spices to the raw mixture and not just salt and pepper per the recipe. We also added about a tbsp. of a spice called ‘sumac’ because my dad likes the flavor. Sumac is a tart spice with a somewhat lemony flavor. I don’t know that sumac is traditionally used in kibbeh, but it was definitely a nice addition to the dish.

Aside from that, the only other minor change was the amount of burghul needed. Three cups proved to be a bit too much for the amount of meat we used, so we scaled it back a bit. I’d say we used about 2 and a half cups and it was just right.  I will also chill out on how much oil/butter I use next time. I underestimated the natural fat that the meat brings and used a wee bit too much added fat to the dish. I know butter is never a bad thing, but sometimes less is more.  It also took more than 30 minutes to cook. We did end up baking the dish at 400 vs. 450 and it cooked for a little under an hour. Make sure to keep a close eye on it after the 4o minute mark so it doesn’t overcook/burn.

The results, I am happy to say, were fantastic. It tastes just like I remember baked kibbeh to taste and, lemme tell ya, it’s been awhile. I paired it with some plain yogurt (I’m not brave enough to try making my own laban just yet) and a cucumber & tomato salad. I’ll share the rest of the photos tomorrow, but for now enjoy a lovely pic of the final product – cheesy mint leaf garnish included.

A Feast Worthy of A King

Recipe of the Week: Kibbeh

It’s that time again!  This week is a special week because the dish I’m making will be attempted in honor of my dad’s birthday. My baba turns an undisclosed age next Monday and I thought it would be fun to make him one of his favorite dishes to celebrate. His request was Kibbeh (baked, not fried) with a simple tomato, cucumber and onion salad as a side. Kibbeh is also great with laban (yogurt), but I don’t have the laban starter I need to make it this time around. A great substitute for laban (assuming you don’t just run to a specialty store to by some already made) is plain yogurt.

Kibbeh is meat. Exciting, right? There are a few ways you can make Kibbeh; the most recognizable being the lovely fried, football-shaped version.  It’s meat wrapped in more meat and then fried – winning combination right there. It’s also really hard to make correctly, so I’m going for the simpler version, and the one my pop’s prefers, baked kibbeh.

Here’s a rough estimation of the recipe I have:

You need to make two different batches of the meat. I think I’m going to use a ground lamb/beef combination.

The Base Kibbeh (not a technical term, just the one I’m using):

2 lbs. lamb or beef (I’ll be using beef)

Chopped onion

3 cups burghul ( I am sure there is some debate as to which texture of burghul to use. My mom didn’t say, but my dad mentioned medium or #2, so we’ll give that a try)

Salt and pepper

If this had been the 80’s and my mama was making this dish, she probably would have bought the meat whole and cut it up and ground it herself. I won’t be doing that. Obviously.

So, soak the burghul for about an hour and then squeeze it to make sure all the water is out. Mix the burghul with the meat until it rises a little bit and then add the onions and the spices. Place about half of the mixture in the bottom of the pan and smooth out evenly. Let sit for a bit before putting the cooked mixture on top.

Kibbeh Stuffing:

1 pound of ground lamb or beef ( for this I’ll use lamb)

Finely chopped onion

1/2 + pine nuts

2 tbsp. butter

Salt, allspice, cinnamon and pepper to taste

Another 1/2 ish of melted butter

Brown pine nuts in the butter on low heat until light brown.  Set aside and then cook the meat until brown. Add the onions and the spices and cook until everything is tender. Remove from fire and then add the pine nuts.

Wait until it cools a little and spread the stuffing on top of the raw kibbeh in the bottom of the round pan. Place the remaining raw kibbeh on top and smooth it out evenly. Then cut the dish into diamond wedges with a knife.  Pour melted butter evenly across the top and bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for about 30 minutes uncovered until perfectly brown.

This will be interesting! I hope I do this right, otherwise dad’s getting Taco Cabana as a consolation dinner. Wish me luck!!

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