Kibbeh is eaten everywhere in the Lebanon, it’s almost the national dish. Traditionally it required hours of pounding to death (death by exhaustion of the pounder) in a pestle and mortar, but regular readers of this blog will know that I am firmly of the Life Is Too Short school of thought so we won’t be doing any of that in this recipe.
It’s easier to make this kibbeh in large quantities but it freezes well.
It goes very well with a nutty lambs’ lettuce and tomato salad (you might want to add a few crûtons to make it into a sort of westernised fattoush) or with a palm hearts and orange salad.
Recipe for Kibbeh Bil Sayneeyeh – Lebanese baked minced lamb cake
Makes about four cakes for six people each, freeze two. The yoghurt sauce is just enough for twelve, make this fresh.
- 3 large onions
- 1½ kg/3 lbs 6 oz minced lamb (ideally from the leg), divided into three equal portions
- 350g/12 oz fine bulghur
- 3 tbsp/30g pine nuts
- 5 tbsp of allspice
- 2 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp smoked salt plus an additional tsp
- Indonesian long black pepper
- Olive oil to fry and to drizzle over
For the yoghurt sauce:
- 25g/1 oz chopped mint
- 500 ml/ just under 2 cups thick Greek yoghurt
- 60 ml/¼ cup of water
- 1 cucumber, sliced thinly
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed with a tsp of smoked salt
- Get the bulghur soaking as soon as you can. It needs an hour.
- Then look for four round baking dishes about 20cm/8 inches diameter
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC
- Make the yoghurt sauce by mixing everything together except for a couple of tablespoons of chopped mint which you’ll need for garnish.
- Peel and chop two of the onions and fry them in about a tbsp. olive oil.
- Add the pine nuts and cook for a couple more minutes
- Add one of the portions of minced lamb and cook until brown
- Add 1 tbsp of allspice, 1 tsp salt and a few grinds of Indonesian long black pepper
- Now comes the alternative to death by exhaustion method. Cut the remaining onion into quarters and puree in a blender, or in a bowl with a non-stick bottom surface with a stick blender – it will be easier for this volume
- Divide the remaining mince into quarters and add, one quarter at a time, to the onion, blending as you add each bundle of mince.
- Then add the drained bulghur, one cup at a time
- Add the rest of the allspice, the cinnamon, nutmeg and salt
- Whizz again – the mixture should be smooth
- Divide into eight, put one into each baking dish and pat down
- Cover each dish with a quarter of the mixture in the frying pan
- Cover this with the remaining four portions of the bulghur mix
- Make a hole in the centre with a skewer and drizzle over the surface with olive oil
- Bake 45 minutes
- Leave two of the cakes to cool, then wrap in foil and freeze
- Serve the other two garnished with the remaining chopped mint, together with the yoghurt sauce and whatever salad you choose.