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What Is Kibbeh?

Kibbeh is a beloved Levantine dish, a symphony of finely ground meat, bulgur wheat, and aromatic spices. This culinary gem, often shaped into balls or patties, is a celebration of texture and flavor, deep-fried to golden perfection or baked into a savory pie. Curious about its rich cultural history and variations? Dive deeper to explore the world of kibbeh.
Angie Bates
Angie Bates

Kibbeh is a Middle Eastern dish that traditionally consists of a wheat and meat, dough-like shell and a spiced meat center. Ground lamb is most often used, but beef can be substituted. Although kibbeh is often made with a shell and filling, it can be made as patties or in pie form as well. The filling is usually cooked before being placed in the doughy shell, and then the kibbeh is normally fried.

Ground or minced beef or lamb may be used for kibbeh. Spices, such as allspice, cinnamon, and cumin, as well as salt and pepper, are usually included. Onions and pine nuts are also normally added. In addition to meat and seasonings, fine bulgar wheat is essential. Mint leaves are occasionally added as well.

Kibbeh is made using wheat.
Kibbeh is made using wheat.

To make kibbeh, the wheat is first soaked and then squeezed to remove excess water. After squeezing, the wheat should be mostly dry. The meat, onion, and seasonings are normally placed in a food processor with the wheat and ground until a dough forms — but a mortar and pestle may also be used. The dough is either formed into a pie-like crust or is shaped into balls. The filling is created by sauteing onions, and then adding the meat, pine nuts, and seasonings.

Kibbeh is often served with yogurt.
Kibbeh is often served with yogurt.

If kibbeh is made into a pie, a layer of dough is smoothed over the bottom of a pie plate. After the filling is cooked, it can be layered on top of the pie crust. Another layer of the dough is placed on top of the filling. Then, the pie-like kibbeh can be baked.

More often, however, oblong meat-filled balls are created. After the balls are formed from the dough, holes are pressed into the center of each ball, and the filling is placed inside. Then the balls are sealed. Once the balls are made, they can be fried in oil.

Kibbeh may also be made in patty form. When making patties, coarse bulgar wheat is often used. The wheat is soaked in water and drained. Afterward, the onions, meat, and spices are added. The mixture can then be shaped into patties and fried.

Patties, pies, and balls should all appear golden brown when cooked. Although it may be served hot, kibbeh can also be served at room temperature. Plain yogurt or yogurt garlic sauce may be served with the dish. Yogurt garlic sauce is simply plain yogurt mixed with garlic, mint leaves, salt, and olive oil.

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    • Kibbeh is made using wheat.
      By: womue
      Kibbeh is made using wheat.
    • Kibbeh is often served with yogurt.
      By: Colinda McKie
      Kibbeh is often served with yogurt.