Kibbeh sajieh

This kibbeh is baked rather than fried; it is shaped like a saj, this concave-shaped oven that sits on many street corners in Beirut these days; it is filled with fried onions and walnuts and spiced with hot chili pepper and pomegranate molasses. Served with some muhammara dip on the side.

A traditional saj being heated with a branch in Deir el-Qamar, Chouf 

The basic recipe is a kibbeh shell made up of lean ground meat (veal, lamb or beef or a mixture), a small grated onion and a cup of fine bulgur. Click here for the recipe.

The filling consists of the following:

  • 2 cups of chopped onions
  • 2 cups of chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbsp of hot red pepper paste (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp of pomegranate molasses
  • salt, pepper, to taste
  • olive oil as needed
The method for making this kibbeh is straightforward; select a cookie cutter of about 3 inches in diameter and a can on which you will shape the kibbeh one by one. Grease a large baking sheet. 
  1. Fry the onions and when the onions are golden, add the walnuts and fry till slightly toasted and fragrant. Add the hot pepper paste and the pomegranate molasses, salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine well. Set aside to cool a bit. 
  2. Roll out the kibbeh dough between two sheets of wax paper as if you are cutting cookies and cut into round shapes with the cookie cutter. Place a square piece of plastic or wax paper on the can and set the kibbeh round on it. Place about one tablespoon of filling on it and cover with the top round of kibbeh. Cover the kibbeh with the piece of paper or plastic and pat it gently to seal it and shape it into a saj. Set on a greased pan; fill the pan and bake in a preheated 375F oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until the kibbeh are thoroughly cooked; serve with muhammara sauce on the side if desired. 


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  1. Emily
    Posted April 5, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    I just wanted to tell you how much I love your site! Without your assistance, our Easter dinner would be very different this year. Today I spent the day making Kibbe footballs in prep for kibbe labniyeh, and I have a container full of your lovely baklava ready for dessert. My husband is from Homs and he is very thankful that you’re inspiring me to make some of his favorite foods. So thank you! And keep the posts coming!!

  2. Joumana
    Posted April 5, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    @Emily: Thanks so much for taking the time to tell me this; so grateful for your appreciation and Happy Easter!

  3. Posted April 5, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Joumana, I just saw that your blog is nominated in the best regional food blog category at Saveur’s food blog awards!!! Congratulations!! I voted for you! You deserve the recognition!

  4. Halim
    Posted April 5, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I love the fact that you have Lebanese wine in the background! Is stew meat lean enough?

  5. Posted April 5, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    How perfect! Clever way to get those perfect circles. Now how to get that oven…=)

  6. Posted April 5, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    These sound delicious! The combination on onions and walnuts sounds so appealing. Gorgeous photos too! Happy Easter to you and your family, Joumana!

  7. Anne-Marie Petros
    Posted April 5, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Dear Joumana,

    I’ve been following your blog since you we’re still in the States, and I love it!!
    Thank you so much for the recipe. My daughter has been begging me to improvise it after she tasted it in Lebanon over the summer at Tawlet. But I couldn’t find it in my cookbooks. Now I can make it for her as her vegetarian treat for Easter.
    Thank you, you are amazing! Have a great weekend, and keep writing!

    P.S.: regarding your post on the hommaydah (wild sorrel), I’m traveling to Beirut this summer and I would love to pick up a thorough guide to Lebanese wild edible plants. Which books do you recommend? I own Cuisine du Terroir (French Edition) which has a section at the end that lists a few herbs and plants. Any other suggestions would be great. Thank you!!

  8. Posted April 5, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    very nice Joumana….
    I miss all the goodies … I hope to see you in Beirut when I come

  9. Joumana
    Posted April 5, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    @Anne-Marie: I have seen a few books on Lebanon’s wildplants and flowers (in French); I will get the titles for you in a few days (remind me if I forget!). A friend of mine who bakes for Tawlet and at the Souk el Tayeb (Anne-Marie Bassoul) also told me about an English chef who visited Lebanon recently and foraged for wild herbs in the Bekaa with Kamal. As soon as I get his name I will let you know.Thanks for all the praise too, I love the positive feedback!

    @Halim: I have not tried it with stew meat; if you do let me know!

    @Magda: Thanks you so much, I would return the favor as well! :)

    @Sandie: You are too sweet! Thank you!

    @Stelio: Pomegranate molasses is a syrup obtained after boiling sour pomegranates; it is thick and has a sweet/sour flavor. You can find it in any Middle-Eastern grocery store or substitute some other molasses, like grape.

  10. Angel of the North
    Posted April 6, 2012 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    I’m not that keen on meat in a lot of things and this recipe looks really wonderful – the best kibbeh one yet. My favourite blog of all-time.

  11. Posted April 6, 2012 at 3:38 am | Permalink

    Joumana Hi! I love your above recipe it looks out of this world will definitely try it …I love Kibbe. I am not sure I know what pomegranate molasses is. Cheers, Stelio

  12. Posted April 6, 2012 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    Joumana, I’ve missed a few of your posts (I’ve got make-up reading to do) :). I say that because I learn so much about Lebanese food, cooking, on your site that I do not want to miss a post. The photo is beautiful, and I can’t take my eyes off that mortar and pestle.

  13. Posted April 6, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    These look very interesting. With pomegranate molasses, I am sure they are delicious.

  14. s
    Posted April 6, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    Joumana, just came here to say I wish you luck for the Saveur awards- you totally deserve it. x s

  15. Posted April 6, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Another great regional recipe that I am excited to make. This is so helpful every time I visit.I learn so much and it makes it easier to not be afraid to try something different!

  16. Posted April 7, 2012 at 1:56 am | Permalink

    I love this kibbeh…. you’re making me hungry

  17. Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Ya hala Mme Joumana! Thanks for the info. Stelio

  18. Tina Der Bedrossian
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    Thank you for your wonderful recipes! Your blog is amazing!

  19. Joumana
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 4:56 am | Permalink

    @Tina: thanks so much for the praise Tina!

  20. Posted April 30, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    I tried to make this recipe last night, but I did something wrong! My kibbeh shell mixture turned into almost liquid in my food processor after about a minute of mixing. No idea what happened, but there was no way I was able to cut it into rounds. Thankfully my husband saved the meal when he suggested I mix the filling and kibbeh shell together to make meatballs. I’m going to try again though!

  21. Joumana
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    @thekitchenfrog: Did you drain the bulgur mixture well? This is the critical step and it needs to be totally dry. Also what type of meat did you use? the meat should be fat-free, or the fat will create pockets when fried or baked and holes in the shell. I am so glad you managed to save the meal and use it for meatballs!

  22. Posted May 1, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    I probably didn’t drain the bulgur as well as I could have; it was definitely damp when I put it in the food processor! My store was out of lean ground lamb so I ground some boneless lamb loin that I had in my fridge.

  23. Joumana
    Posted May 1, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    @the kitchen frog: You can substitute veal or pork or chicken too, as long as it is extra lean.

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