This is one of the best (if not the best) kibbeh dishes; we grew up with it, with my grandmother patiently coring the hollow kibbeh balls and stirring the yogurt till thickened. The final kick of flavor was when the cilantro and garlic fried in oil was added to the sauce. In Lebanon, the hollow kibbeh balls are available in supermarkets and delis and this dish is considered to be “easy”. Most households I know have a stash of frozen kibbeh balls to use at the last minute for a labniyeh.
I am going to point out some shortcuts.
Kibbeh balls: These can be replaced with:
- Frozen meatballs (supermarket)
- Kibbeh paste made in minutes in a food processor and shaped into meatballs with a cookie dough scooper. The bulgur and meat balls are then brushed in oil and baked for ten minutes or can be boiled for a few minutes. They can be frozen or used that day. If frozen, dump them in the yogurt sauce straight from the freezer.
To make the yogurt sauce, click here.
Cilantro sauce: This one can be replaced with:
- A heaping tablespoon of prepared pesto (with basil or other herb). Add some olive oil and more mashed garlic to taste, and swirl into the yogurt sauce a couple of minutes before serving. Use a pesto which does not contain cheese. I used parsley this time, using the same technique as cilantro sauce. (Refer to the link)