Pumpkin Kibbeh balls

I decided to make pumpkin kibbe, since I had a big pumpkin laying around….Originally, this type of kibbe was meant to eat during Lent or on Fridays…and I have seen it in the villages in the Chouf made in the pie form. I personally prefer it as a “kraass” (stuffed meatball shape). I am not going to kid you, this is a long one, but worth it!

Here it is:


1lb. 5oz. pumpkin pulp, drained of all water in a sieve for several hours, even overnight or longer. Canned pumpkin can be used for speed; if fresh pumpkin is used, bake in a moderate oven (300-350F) until tender when pierced with a fork, around 45 minutes.

5oz. onion, pureed in a processor or grated manually.

10oz. burghol#1

6oz. all-purpose flour

Spice combo: salt, black or white pepper, cinnamon, allspice, paprika,  about 1 teaspoon of each to start; the proportions can be doubled according to personal taste.


12oz. onions, chopped.

1lb. chick peas, cooked and drained or 2 cans of cooked garbanzo drained.

8oz. toasted and chopped walnuts (or pecans).

2oz. toasted pine nuts (this is optional).

Spices: Salt, cumin powder, cinnamon. For a more complex flavor, can add 2 or 3 tablespoons of a ready-made chutney, such as a mango chutney.

Oil a quart, for frying.


After processing the onion to a paste, add the burghol, mix it and add the pumpkin and flour. When the consistency of a thick and manageable paste has been reached, start adding the spice mixture.

Taste and adjust seasoning. Transfer the mixture in a bowl and keep in the fridge up to 2 days.

Next, cook the stuffing in a skillet. Fry the chopped onions in a generous amount of olive oil till golden, add the chick peas, then the walnuts and pine nuts if using; lastly, add the spice mixture and fry for a few minutes then turn off the heat and let it sit and cool, or store it in the fridge for a day or two until you are ready to make the kraass (balls).

Get a bowl of lukewarm water with a teaspoon of cornstarch diluted in it ready and set it by your side. This will be used to moisten your hands as you form the balls.

Moisten your hands, then grab a walnut-sized portion of dough; roll it to smoothen it and with the index finger of one hand poke a hole in it while cupping it with the other palm; this should be done while the other hand is simultaneously moving back and forth to help the index finger dig up a long and narrow cavity inside the ball. Then, while holding the empty shell, use a teaspoon to stuff it and close the opening by patching it. Roll the kibbe either between your moist palms or on a hard surface to make it look smooth and elongate the ends. When all the kraass have been formed, they can wait in the fridge for you to get the oil ready…they can even wait several hours or days in the freezer.

O.K, now the oil (vegetable) can be heated to 375 or so.  Pour enough (about a quart) in a dutch oven. Drop the Kraass and let them cook for 3 minutes. Scoop them out and place them on a paper towel to soak up the oil. Transfer them to a beautiful platter and place several fresh lemon quarters in between ….

Serve either hot or at room temperature, with some lemon or some plain yogurt. Sahteyn!


With pumpkin kibbe, indeed any type of kibbe, you can vary the spices to your discretion. I am merely presenting a selection of the common ones used in Lebanese cooking; start with the salt, pepper, and the duo of allspice and cinnamon, then vary according to your liking. The stuffing suggested can also be varied, as I have tried a stuffing of cooked swiss chard sauteed with onions and it is also delicious. The kibbe can be prepared in advance, uncooked or fried, and stored in your freezer for several weeks in anticipation of a party, or to pull out a few for an impromptu dinner; in which case, they can be heated for a few minutes in a moderate oven. Serve with a yogurt dish and decorate with quartered lemons or limes.

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  1. Linda
    Posted May 22, 2009 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    Thanks so much for the pumpkin kibbe recipe. I will try making it tonight. Have you ever tasted the ones at Adonis in Montreal? I would love to know how they make their vegetarian kibbe. It has spinach inside.

  2. Joumana
    Posted May 22, 2009 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Hi Linda
    Thanks for visiting! I have not tasted the ones at Adonis, nor have I ever been to Montreal. I can tell you that there are dozens if not hundreds of vegetarian kibbe recipes. Some have only bulghur and flour (called kibbe hazeeneh, meaning “sad”), some have potatoes and pumpkin, some have potatoes and flour and some bulghur, etc..
    As far as the stuffing goes, spinach is a substitute for the swiss chard which is more commonly used (and more nutritious than spinach). I am planning to try all hundred varieties and report it on this blog. Joumana

  3. Linda
    Posted May 23, 2009 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Hello Jourmana,
    I would love to know which recipe for stuffed kibbe that you like best, as which one holds together best for making the shaped ones. I am baking a yam now to make your pumpkin stuffed kibbe. I thought it would work as well as the pumpkin, hopefully. I want to shape them into the little footballs and fry them also. Looking forward to your results of various recipes. Take care and have a great weekend. Linda

  4. Joumana
    Posted May 23, 2009 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Hi Linda
    I think that yam will make it easier for you to shape than pumpkin. Pumpkin is so moist it is hard to shape and you end up adding a lot of flour.
    If your dough ends up too dry, adding a little more onion and even an egg can help. Also, some folks add to the dough a large and wet pita bread (instead of the flour). They wet the bread in the pumpkin cooking water and mix it with the bulghur. What you want to achieve is a homogenous paste that will be easy to form into walnut-sized balls and hollowed. Some folks don’t bother with the balls and spread the kibbe in two layers with a filling in between. I have tried both and think the balls are infinitely superior in looks and taste. Also, instead of frying the kibbe, some people boil it in lightly salted water and then dress them in the typical Lebanese dressing of fresh garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Good luck!

  5. Linda
    Posted May 23, 2009 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    Hello again Joumana,
    Thanks for all your help. My grandma used to make kibbe all the time and with the luban, fried and in the pan baked. I’m trying to make the vegetarian ones now and I remember as a little girl making the little footballs with her so it is being back wonderful memories for me. I’ll let you know how my yam ones turn out – now to fry them. Have you ever just coated them with a little olive oil and baked them? I may try that as well. Take care and thanks again. Linda

  6. Joumana
    Posted May 23, 2009 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Hi Linda
    Was your grandma an immigrant from Lebanon? which area was she from? anyway, re: the frying, I have never tried coating them with olive oil and baking them. I would be interested to know how that turns out. I love the fried ones so much, especially when they are hot and I squeeze some lemon on them. I am guessing that if you bake them the oven should be fairly hot. Let me know if you have time. Ma’a salameh.

  7. Linda
    Posted May 26, 2009 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    Hi again Joumana,
    Yes my grandparents both immigrated from Lebanon. They were from Kirown, I don’t know how to spell it. I have just made three batches of yam kibbe and fried all of them. I think I’ve made well over a hundred in the last two days. You are right – they are delicious. I’m using the proportions of about 1:1 of mashed yam and fine bulgar, then adding a little flour. Is that about the same proportions that you use. please let me know. I’m going to made them with swiss chard filling next. I think I may just want them all summer long. By the way, what do you put in your grapeleaf rolls to make them vegetarian. Thanks so much for all your help and have a great week, Linda

  8. Joumana
    Posted May 26, 2009 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    Hi Linda!
    I am so glad your kibbes turned out delicious. Hurray! Now, for the vegetarian filling for grape leaves I am going to refer you to my post on stuffed swiss chard. In Lebanon, we stuff both swiss chard and grape leaves the same way: with rice, tomatoes, onions, a bit of parsley and a dab of mint, and for flavoring, the usual lemon juice and olive oil.
    I use swiss chard because I refuse to eat rubbery grape leaves when they are canned. Now is the season for fresh ones, I have bought some at the Palestinian grocer.
    As far as the proportion that you used for your kibbes it is perfect! Take care, Joumana

  9. Posted January 16, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful post — why don’t you have a “print this” button?


    jenn air grills


  10. Marie
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 5:08 am | Permalink

    I’m so glad i found this recipe!
    My father is lebanese so i’ve grown up eating all the delicious food, but i became a vegetarian recently.
    My Aunt made this for me for easter and i”ve been looking for a recipe ever since.
    Your recipe has brought back memories of family celebrations and all the amazing food i thought i’d miss out on now that i dont eat meat.
    You’re a life saver!

  11. assorseshoupe
    Posted October 13, 2010 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Hihi guys, long time fan first time poster here

    delighted to be a member, and I look forward to start getting more active here

    For now look at my site http://foodtivity.com/articledirectory/?p=5

  12. Elizabeth
    Posted December 5, 2010 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Do you have a recipe for the baked pie version of this recipe? I am half Syrian and grew up eating kibbe.

  13. Posted March 11, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Avec ces petits ” ballons de rugby ” on doit faire son effet lors d’ un repas entre amis ou à un apéritif, avec ces préparations inconnues par ici. Un délicieux mariage très surprenant, dont nous n’ avons pas l’ habitude….

  14. Marie
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    Hi! Recently found your website and so glad so many great recipes! If I want to make the kbeb with only burghul and flour on the outside for the balls what are my measurements? burgul and flour in equal amounts? Thanks so much!

  15. Joumana
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    @Marie: I don’t have an exact recipe for you; I have always used bulgur, semolina and flour, with the flour being the smallest amount (like a 1/4 volume of the bulgur). I would just say: Try it and see! Another suggestion is to use fresh breadcrumbs instead of the flour.

  16. Lori
    Posted March 8, 2012 at 5:04 am | Permalink

    Hello Joumana,
    Thanks for this recipe!
    Can you please tell me how many kibbeh balls do you get with your above cited ingredients?
    Many thanks

  17. Joumana
    Posted March 8, 2012 at 5:21 am | Permalink

    @ Lori: Honestly I don’t remember, I made this recipe over 2 years ago; I just know that it makes 40 (or about) small ones, less if they are larger obviously.

One Trackback

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nakia. Nakia said: @grahamelliot Pumpkin Kibbe is great: http://bit.ly/arnA06 And so is Rice Biryani: http://bit.ly/9ckjK6 (sent while I eat a cheeseburger) [...]

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