Kibbeh pie (Kibbeh bel-saniyeh)

Happy Hannukah to all my friends of the Jewish faith!

This is the classic Lebanese dish, par excellence. A testament to the prowess of a Lebanese cook.

This pie was a welcome gift from the only woman to be appointed in the south of Lebanon in the position of notary public (mokhtara), Mrs Mimi Arab. Her cooking skills are well-known and her kibbeh pie did not last long at our house.

She was kind enough to invite me to lunch and allowed me to take photos of her 400 year-old house in the village of Deir el-Kamar, where she operates a gas station and general store as well as officiates as the local notary public.

We talked about her years in Lebanon after leaving her native Damascus; she raised three children and endured many hardships including wars and privations while the village was under a blockade. She showed me all the areas of her house that she remodeled and we sat down to a copious lunch prepared by her loyal housekeeper of fifty years.

What is kibbeh? Kibbeh is the mainstay of Lebanese gastronomy. An intimate marriage between the leanest finest meat and bulgur.

What is the best meat for kibbeh? In Lebanon, butchers will sell kibbeh meat already prepared; in the US, one has to find a good trusted butcher and request some lean leg of lamb or beef sirloin, in which all visible fat has been removed.

The meat needs to be ground three times at least; pounded or processed in a food processor until pasty.

Then mixed with some bulgur and seasonings; then spread, pie-style, onto a large round dish.

A filling of ground meat, onion and pine nuts is prepared and cooked. This filling is placed over the first layer of meat. Then the top layer of meat is spread evenly over the filling.

Kibbeh can be made of lamb, veal, beef, chicken, white fish or vegan. It can be made in pie form or in stuffed elongated meatballs. The shell of the meatballs needs to be thin, the thinner the better.


For a meat kibbeh recipe, click here.

For a chicken kibbeh recipe, click here.

For a fish kibbeh recipe, click here.

For a vegan kibbeh recipe, click here.


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34 Comments

  1. SYLVIA
    Posted December 3, 2010 at 2:26 am | Permalink

    One word, delicious. Restaurant worthy supper, right in your own home. Guests will devour.

  2. samir
    Posted December 3, 2010 at 3:11 am | Permalink

    …the kibbeh looks exquisite..im sure it tasted even better than it looked…did she by any chance give you her recipe?

  3. Posted December 3, 2010 at 3:17 am | Permalink

    This is new to me, but I learnt something new, it looks good.

  4. Posted December 3, 2010 at 3:19 am | Permalink

    A wonderful speciality!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  5. Posted December 3, 2010 at 4:18 am | Permalink

    I like very much what they do nowadays with the renovations of old houses. This blend of the old with new elements is interesting and creates a very warm feeling. I would love to try this kind of pie. It is very unique.

  6. Posted December 3, 2010 at 4:29 am | Permalink

    mmmm with laban, mint and cucumber salad….

  7. Posted December 3, 2010 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    Oh, I was sure this is something sweet until I start reading that it’s all about meat here! Thank you for a visual tour of this beautiful house… 400 -years-old, terrific!
    Have a lovely weekend ahead, dear Joumana!

  8. Posted December 3, 2010 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    I can’t decide if I like the picture of entrance to this ancient house or the one of the pie better…both beautiful.

  9. Posted December 3, 2010 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    This lady is a real inspiration – she has gone through so much and she manages to do so many things! The house is beautiful. And the kibbeh is beautiful as well: one of my favourites from Lebanese cooking.

  10. Posted December 3, 2010 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Ha! At first I thought that was a chocolate tart! This meat pie looks wonderful. Interesting how the meat is ground so many times-must be fantastic! Looks like a lovely invitation you had to Mrs. Mimi’s home :) xo

  11. Joumana
    Posted December 3, 2010 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    @Samir: All I got so far was a hint: 1 kilo meat to 700 g bulgur! I will keep ou posted!

  12. Posted December 3, 2010 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I noticed the title: ‘Kibbeh’ and immediately had to take a look. This dish certainly looks amazing!
    This was a favorite dish that my grandmother made for me, while growing up. And even though I’ve made the same dish, over the years, I haven’t yet mastered her KIbbeh.
    I’m beginning to think grandma may have put a dash more love into it.

  13. Posted December 3, 2010 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Bravo to this woman’s career accomplishment, her olden home looks fab and the kibbeh…definitely unique, Lebanese and something I want to try. I’ll have the lamb version please and thank you!

  14. Posted December 3, 2010 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Can you imagine working for someone for 50 years… that’s loyalty! I have heard about kibbeh before but never attempted it… now there are so many choices. Do you serve it with something?? The house is just too beautiful.. love all the nooks and crannies.

  15. Joumana
    Posted December 3, 2010 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    @Deana: kibbeh is served with a yogurt salad (yogurt and cucumbers and mint and garlic), for the lamb kibbeh.

  16. Posted December 3, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    This is on my list of first to try when I make it to Lebanon. I hope it will be sooner rather than later!

  17. Posted December 3, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    I love the additions to the basic bannana bread; I will have to try some of these. I love the kibbeh. A new meat pie to try and I love meat pies. And with bulgur that’s jusrt a healthful +. Fantastic-Thx!

  18. Posted December 3, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Kibbeh is one of my favorite middle eastern food but I’ve never had it in pie form! Yum.

  19. Posted December 3, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    OMG what a beautiful design!!! I don’t have the patience of making such beautiful designs. I can only imagine how wonderful it tasted. Her house is so beautiful as well.

  20. Posted December 3, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Wow, I’ve never heard of a dish like this, Joumana! I love this woman and your photos. What an inspiring lady and wonderful cook.

  21. Posted December 3, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Joumana:
    I absolutely love Kibbeh. It is one of the many dishes incorporated into the Brazilian diet by the millions of Lebanese who live in Brazil.
    How awesome that is visiting someone’s 400 hundred year house? I think most people I know, don’t know someone who owns a house in living condition this old. I guess that’s part of being on this side of the planet ….Have a great weekend.
    H

  22. Posted December 4, 2010 at 2:29 am | Permalink

    Chicken, fish and vegan kibbeh too? I like how you said kibbeh is testament to the prowess of the Lebanese cook. It’s called içli köfte in Turkey and we love it. BUT we buy it because although I’m tempted, I’m afraid to make it. The picture in my head is a big collapsed mess! :) (That’s my prowess!) I wonder if the pie is easier to do than the balls?

  23. Posted December 4, 2010 at 2:43 am | Permalink

    wow, that looks delicious!!! and I love that house with the stone walls and all.

  24. Posted December 4, 2010 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Mmm i love kebbe with laban :)
    The house is wonderful…

  25. Posted December 4, 2010 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I’ve had Kibbeh before and LOVED it, but never have had it in the shape of a pie. What a beautiful thing! I can’t even imagine creating the design that adorns the top. – S

  26. Posted December 4, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    très appétissant, bravo et merci du partage!

  27. Posted December 5, 2010 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    this is not only an attractive dish, but an assuredly delicious one as well!

  28. Posted December 6, 2010 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    When we lived in Mississippi, there was a large Lebanese population in our small town. Kibbeh recipes were often featured in the newspaper. I haven’t eaten it in years and I appreciate your sharing the recipe.

    Mrs. Mimi Arab sounds like someone very special. She has gone through so much, yet prevailed. I have great admiration for her.
    Sam

  29. Posted December 6, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    I love this kibbeh!

  30. Posted December 6, 2010 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    In the last few years I had started purchasing vegetarian kibbeh balls…however, I do honestly miss the meat ones with pine nuts. Maybe making a pie like this one would keep me in line to not overdo my portions ;o)

    That old house is absolutely charming…especially with such an admirable woman at the helm. I’m sure you spent a true cherished moment in time.

    Ciao for now,
    Claudia

  31. Posted December 7, 2010 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    mmm this looks wonderful Joumana! the design also so inviting!

    Happy Hannukah to everyone also!

  32. Posted December 7, 2010 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Fascinating slice of life and slice of kibbeh. A vegan one? Who knew!

  33. Neomi
    Posted December 8, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Delurking now after following your blog for a few months and I’m just in awe. Your Kibbeh is beautiful and the vegan and fish kibbeh are def. on my to do list now.

  34. Posted March 9, 2011 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    Un joli moment de culture et de gourmandise….dépaysant.

2 Trackbacks

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