I was immediately intrigued by this kibbeh, when it was described by Florence Ollivry in her fascinating book Les Secrets d’Alep (Aleppo’s Secrets); I had never even heard of it, even though the many kibbeh from Aleppo were well-known in foodie circles here in Lebanon. Ollivry described it as a vegan kibbeh served with grape syrup as a dip. I searched elsewhere and found another, more detailed recipe, in Marlene Matar’s masterful cookbook Maeedat Marlene men Halab (Marlene’s Aleppo Cuisine). Mrs Matar explains that the word zengliyeh has a Farsi root and means “any dough fried in oil”; these are savory fritters made-up of spinach, chickpeas, onion, flour and spices, and are made for fasting days, and especially Good Friday. They are served with a dip of grape syrup. Mrs. Matar goes on to add that she could hardly wait for the fritters to make it to the dinner table and always grabbed one straight out of the skillet to savor. I felt I had to try and taste these as soon as possible. Well, I did today, and they were absolutely delicious, light and with a touch of sweetness imparted from the grape syrup.
Prep Time: 90 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Passive Time: 1 hour
1 1/2 lbs spinach, washed and chopped coarsely (can use frozen)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh parsley (leaves only)
3/4 cup chopped green onions (white and green parts only)
4 cups cooked chickpeas (2 cans rinsed and drained)
1/4 cup fine bulgur, rinsed and drained
3 tsp ground coriander (can substitute other spices of your choice)
2 Tbs ground cumin
1 Tbs red chili powder or Aleppo pepper
1 Tbs salt or to taste
1 bottle of grape syrup
Oil bath (about 1 inch depth)
1. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and start mixing first with your hands or a large wooden spoon. Transfer to a food processor to mash the chickpeas and obtain a firm but moist dough. Adjust it by adding a bit of flour if necessary (I prefer to keep it moist).
2. Let the dough rest one hour (can be 30 minutes); if needed, a portion can be frozen sealed in plastic bags and used at a later date.
3. Shape the dough into balls (can use an ice-cream baller) about 2 inches in diameter and flatten slightly again a flour-coated cookie sheet. You should have about 30 patties.
3. Heat the oil to 350-375F, and fry the patties a total of 3 minutes or until firmed-up and golden-brown; remove and set on a cookie sheet covered with kitchen towels to soak-up the oil.
4. Serve with the grape syrup to sprinkle syrup on each patty, with raw veggies or pickles if desired.
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