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.
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!
NOTES and TIPS
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.