The traditional Lebanese kibbeh made from lamb or beef and bulgur wheat is a popular Levantine dish. Try this football-shaped Middle Eastern version of the croquette or meatballs at home!
Made with minced lamb or beef, the kibbeh, kibbe, or kubba is a Levantine dish that’s often seen at the festive table in Middle Eastern cultures.
When eating kibbeh you’re presented with two layers of meat; the outer casing is a mix of bulgur and minced meat, and the inner filling is spicy ground meat cooked with onions and walnuts.
A time consuming yet tasty dish, it takes practice to make the kibbeh just right!
What are the Different Types of Kibbeh?
Kibbeh is the national dish of Lebanon and Syria. There are also many variations of it found in the Levantine countries of Jordan, Israel, Cyprus, Egypt, Iraq, Palestine, and Turkey.
These are some of the popular types of kibbeh.
Fried kibbeh is the most famous type. The Lebanese version is football shaped like the one we’ve made. The Syrian version that Aleppo is famous for is shaped like long cylinders.
Kibbeh Nayyeh (Raw Kibbeh)
This is a mix of raw minced lamb with bulgur wheat and spices. It’s usually served with pita bread, and olive oil, green peppers, mint leaves, and chopped onions.
Kibbeh Bil Saynyieh (Traybake kibbeh)
Kibbeh Bil Saynyieh or kibbeh bil sanieh is kibbeh in a pan that’s made of 3 layers. The top and bottom layers are made of a mixture of ground meat and bulgur wheat, and a thin layer of ground meat is cooked between these two layers.
This kibbeh is similar to the deep fried kibbeh, but after deep frying it’s then baked in a yogurt and garlic sauce.
Similar to kibbeh sanieh, this version of kibbeh is made by stuffing two round layers of kibbeh with a layer of the hot pepper dip called muhammara.
Kibbeh Mishwiyeh or Grilled kibbeh
This kibbeh is made in a dome-shape by using a bowl, cup or any other similar utensil. A mix of ground mince, onions and nuts are stuffed between two layers of kibbeh which is then grilled or barbecued.
These are versions of the meat and nut stuffed kibbeh mishwiyeh that are pan-fried with green beans instead of grilling. They’re then cooked in a yoghurt sauce.
Kibbeh on Skewers
In this version, the bulgur and ground mince for the kibbeh is shaped in the form of kebabs on skewers and then chargrilled.
The kibbeh is formed into dumpling balls that can either be hollow or stuffed inside. These balls are baked or stewed before being cooked in a tahini sauce with onion paste and lemon or orange juice.
Recipe Pointers For Kibbeh Recipe
- You can use a mix of lamb and beef mince, or either one that you prefer.
- If you cannot grind the onions for the kibbeh casing, grate them really fine instead.
- You can use pine nuts instead of walnuts.
- If your mixture is too sticky you can add some cornflour, if it’s too dry add some water & oil mixture.
- It’s best to make lots of extra kibbeh at one shot and refrigerate or freeze them for later.
- Serve kibbeh while still hot or warm. If you need to reheat the kibbeh, fry them in oil for a minute or bake in an oven.
FAQs about Kibbeh
Kibbeh or kibbe is an Arabic word that means ball or lump.
Technically speaking yes, you could. Cut the frying time in half and bake them, before dipping your kibbeh balls in the yogurt sauce.
Kamouneh spice mix is a Lebanese blend of spices that’s often used in the preparation of kibbeh and other dishes. The main ingredient is the cumin seeds. Other ingredients include dried basil, rosebuds, marjoram, cinnamon, allpsice, mint, black peppercorns and salt.
Don’t expect perfectly shaped kibbeh at the first try. They can be rounder. Make a golf-sized ball, then pinch the inside to make room for the filling. Close your kibbeh by putting your hands together. See the images of how I’ve done it higher up in the post as an example.
Raw kibbeh is called kibbeh nayyeh. It’s a mix of raw minced lamb with bulgur wheat and spices that is served with pita bread, and olive oil, green peppers, mint leaves, and chopped onions.
Traditionally, kibbeh is served with a number of dishes. In Iraq, it’s served with the Levantine sweet distilled anise drink called Arak or with salads. In some countries, it’s served with soup, in some others with empanadas, salsa verde, tahini, tofu, or requeijao. You can also serve the kibbeh with chickpea salad, hummus, chickpea salad, or with pita bread.
Cooked kibbeh can be stored in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Reheat before serving.
For the Kibbeh filling:
- 1 lbs minced meat (lamb or beef)
- 2 onions, chopped
- Kamouneh Spice Mix for filling
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- Oil to fry
For the Kibbeh casing:
- 1.2 lbs a kilo fine bulgur wheat
- 1.2 lbs minced meat
- 1 onion
- Spice Mix for casing
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
- Oil to fry
- Soak the bulgur wheat in enough water to cover and set aside. Bulgur will gain volume (similar to couscous).
- Prepare the filling: saute the chopped onions on oil until golden brown.
- Add the minced meat, salt, and spice mix to the onions and cook out the meat on medium-high heat. Once cooked, turn off gas, add walnuts and set aside.
- Drain the bulgur by squeezing it with a cloth (important!) and add to a large bowl.
- In several small batches, add the bulgur wheat and equal amounts of raw meat to the food processor and process until it all clumps together and starts to roll in the processor bowl.
- Grind 2 onions to go in the food processor as well. Then, put all the meat with bulgur, onions, along with your spice mix and salt and using hands to create a mixture. If your mixture is too sticky you can add some cornflour, if it’s too dry add some water & oil mixture.
- Shape your kibbeh balls from casing by making golf size balls with a hole for the filling. Once you place your filling in, close the balls and roll in sesame seeds. Put aside on the tray.
- Deep fry your kibbeh for about 5 minutes. If you don’t have a deep fryer you can use a regular frying pan with a significant amount of oil.