When I saw the Monthly Mingle ‘Arabian Nights’ challenge presented by What’s For Lunch, Honey, I had to participate. I’ve enjoyed eating an occasional kebab but never explored cooking from this region.
I researched a few sites to get an idea for some of the common dishes. When I stumbled upon Kibbee, it seemed like a good fit. The national dish of Turkey, Kibbee is common in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. Made with ground meat, spices and bulgur (ground wheat) the dish is typically made into oval shapes and fried. The recipe I found is baked, but I don’t know if it really saved me any calories. It turns out pretty dang rich in the end.
The ingredients for the recipe are common with the exception of bulgur. It was the thing that made me pick this dish though — I wondered what bulgur would taste like. Today, I ran out on my lunch break to the nearby Whole Foods to do my shopping. I did have trouble finding the bulgur and couldn’t find it with the other grains. I eventually found it in their bulk foods section which meant I was able to get the precise amount needed for the recipe. I also picked up pine nuts and ground beef (I grew up on a sheep farm … so I can’t eat a cute little lamb).
The recipe was easy to follow and from beginning to end, it’s maybe a 45 minute meal to prepare. The end result is a lightly spiced and savory dish, with layers of olive oil soaked bulgur sandwiching the ground meat. As it bakes, the flavors absorb into the bulgur and make for a very rich meal. I would definetly make it again but next time I might use a bit more salt along with a little more spice.
Lebanese Kibbee (in pan)
1 lb Ground lamb or beef
1 1/2 c Bulgur (ground wheat)
2 md Onions, chopped fine to med
1/2 c Pine nuts
1/2 c Olive oil
1/4 ts Allspice
1/8 ts Cinnamon
1/3 c Flour (or more)
In heavy pan, combine meat, onions, allspice and cinnamon on medium flame and cook until all the pink is gone. Keep pressing meat so pieces of onion disappear, about 10 minutes.
In a bowl, soak bulgur in warm water to cover. Cover bowl; let stand until all the water is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. In bulgur, drain all water (if any is left). Combine flour, salt and olive oil. Mix so that ingredients stick together.
Grease baking pan with oil. Spread half the bulgur mixture on bottom of pan. Put meat mixture on top; add pine nuts. Top with rest of bulgur.
Cut into squares and sprinkle with paprika. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.