Classic fried kibbeh balls with a meat and nut filling

Nov 20, 2021
This delicious fried kibbeh is made with minced meat, spices, and bulgur wheat. Source: Getty Images

These fried kibbeh balls with a meat and nut filling is based on a classic Lebanese dish. It’s a bit of an art form to make good kibbeh — you want to make it crunchy, but not too dry; the filling needs to complement the casing, but not be overwhelming; you want your kibbeh to be savoury in flavour and a little bit spicy, but not too much or too bland. Putting this recipe together was a bit of a challenge, but I don’t mind a challenge every now and again.

If you don’t know what kibbeh is, it’s a bulgur wheat and meat dish and it’s mixed with lots of different things and can be prepared in many different ways. The recipe here is for individually fried bites. They make a great entrée, and despite the prep time (roughly 2 hours) these kibbeh only take 20-30 minutes to cook.

Makes 35-40.

Ingredients

FOR THE FILLING

  • 500 g minced meat
  • 2-3 onions chopped
  • 1 tsp 7 spice (a combination of all spice, turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, paprika, coriander, cumin and cayenne pepper; you can find it at most Middle Eastern shops)
  • 1.5 tbsp Kibbeh Spices Kamouneh Spice Mix (you will find this at most Middle Eastern shops)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tbsp sumac

FOR THE CASING

  • 1kg fine bulgur wheat
  • 1kg mince meat (I used a combination of lamb and beef)
  • 2 onions
  • 1.5 tbsp Kibbeh Spices
  • 1.5 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp 7 spice
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • Sunflower or vegetable oil

Method

  1. Soak the bulgur wheat in enough water to cover and set aside.
  2. To make the filling, sauté the chopped onions in regular olive oil until golden on medium-low heat.
  3. Add 500g of minced meat to the onions and cook out the meat on medium-high heat. Add the 7 spice, Kamouneh spices, black pepper and salt and use the back of your wooden spoon to break up the meat. When it is cooked turn off the heat and add the sumac and chopped walnuts. Taste to make any adjustments then cover and set aside.
  4. Drain the bulgur wheat and add to a large bowl. In several batches, add the bulgur wheat and equal amounts of meat to the food processor and process until it clumps together and starts to roll in the processor bowl. Remove from food processor and return to the large bowl.
  5. Roughly chop 2 onions and add to the food processor along with the 7 spices, Kamouneh spices, black pepper and salt. Blitz well.
  6. When all the meat and bulgur wheat is combined, add the blitzed onion spice mix and the cornflour, then bring everything together preferably with your hands. If too dry add a bit of water, you want it to hold together nicely, not be loose, sticky or crumbly.
  7. Add approximately 1/2 cup of sunflower or vegetable oil to a small bowl to dip your fingers into when shaping the kibbeh to avoid sticking. have a clean tray, the oil, the filling and the casing mix arranged to allow for a smooth workflow.
  8. Take some casing and roll into golf ball size, indent the middle then hollow out the inside with your index finger turning as you do so until you have a half shell. Add a spoon of filling and close up the casing. Compress well with your hands and shape into classic kibbeh morsels. Place on tray. Repeat until the filling has been used.
  9. Deep fry kibbeh in sunflower or vegetable oil. Serve with a yoghurt dip.

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