Kibbeh balls in eggplant sauce

July 19, 2010  •  Category:


The idea of making tiny balls of kibbe is borrowed from an Armenian vegetarian cookbook I have been reading; several recipes mentions a base of bulgur balls smaller than cherries, mixed with various sauces; I mixed mine with the bounty of the garden: eggplant, onions and tomatoes with a dash of hot red pepper paste and lots of mashed garlic.

Eat this dish lukewarm or at room temperature; on top of a rustic bread like this mishtah, a bulgur and whole-grain flatbread from the South of Lebanon, or by itself.


  • 250 g or 1/4 pound ground meat, preferably lamb or veal, removed of all fat
  • 1 cup of fine bulgur (#1)
  • 1/2 cup of semolina flour (optional, can replace with wheat flour)
  • 1 small onion, grated (for balls) and 2 large onions for the eggplant sauce
  • Spices for the kibbeh balls: salt, pepper, a dash of allspice and cinnamon and a good pinch of paprika or cumin
  • 6 cloves of garlic, mashed with a dash of salt in a mortar
  • 1 pound of eggplant, peeled and cut in dice
  • 1 pound of tomatoes, peeled and seeded and cut in dice
  • 1 tablespoon of hot red pepper paste
  • olive oil, as needed
  • chopped parsley to garnish

Prepare the kibbeh balls first:

  1. In a food processor, puree the onion; add the bulgur and spices and mix; add the semolina and mix; add the meat and mix until the mixture is homogenous and smooth, a few minutes.
  2. Form into tiny balls the size of cherries or larger balls depending on your time and preference.
  3. Boil some salted water and drop the balls in it; boil a few minutes until they come to the surface and using a slotted spoon, remove and set aside in a bowl.

Prepare the eggplant sauce:

  1. Heat a generous amount of olive oil; add the chopped onions and fry until the onions are translucent (cover the pan to speed up the process); add the eggplant pieces and fry adding more oil if needed until the eggplant and the onions  are golden.
  2. Add the tomatoes, cover the pot and cook for 20 minutes simmering the sauce gently; add the kibbeh balls, the mashed red pepper paste, the mashed garlic and simmer for 10 more minutes; taste to adjust the seasoning, cool and serve at room temperature or warm.


30 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Stella says:

    Yum Joumana, this sounds so delicious. I keep seeing eggplant dishes, so they must be in full bloom in many different parts of the world. Your photo of those tiny, shiny eggplants is beautiful!

  2. Rosa says:

    I like that recipe! A wonderful dish.

    Great streets!



  3. elra says:

    Love kibbeh very much. My mouth water just by saying the word “kibbeh”. Thanks for the recipe Joumana 🙂

  4. Priya says:

    Mouthwatering dish, makes me hungry..

  5. Suman Singh says:

    kibbeh balls looks so cute and the egg plant sauce..yummie!

  6. Tim Vidra says:

    I just picked 4 eggplants and think I just found the meal for a couple of them outside of the normal eggplant parmesan!


  7. Lentil Breakdown says:

    What happened to the vegetarian version you were reading about? Can you just leave out the meat? Love seeing the blue mosque!! Just like in Turkey!

  8. Oui, Chef says:

    I’ve come to love kibbeh over the past few years (both raw and cooked versions), and am always looking for delicious new ways to use eggplant. The ones you harvested from your garden look just perfect! I’ll be cooking this the next time my in-laws visit. – S

  9. Lori says:

    Such beauty in Lebanon. The buildings, the colors, the ironwork. … stunning I love these pictures.

  10. Katie @Cozydelicious says:

    I love those adorable little eggplants. And the sauce sounds wonderful. I love the idea of eating this on bread to sop up all the sauce.

  11. melrose says:

    It is so lovely and tasty…thanks for the idea! Thank you for the photos of Beirut, I have become one completely new visure of the town.

  12. SYLVIA says:

    Joumana, you make food unique, this is a complete satisfying meal, and makes an especial weeknight dinner. My eyes can’t resist the freshness of the gorgeous eggplants in the bowl. Armenians make a dish similar to this one called borani, and add Swiss chard, and garbanzo beans in it. When it comes to food sometimes it’s good to break the rules.

  13. Meeta says:

    oh how i love the flavors here. aubergines are a huge favorite. wonderful!

  14. peter says:

    I’ve made a similar dish from Constantinople called Simit Kebab where the mixture was ground meat and bulgur. The result was a tender and very moist kebab and your dish would likely end up just as good (if not better).

    p.s. Digging the pics of Beirut you throw in here & there.

  15. radia-recettes says:

    je note ta recette, elle me plait beaucoup , je vais là tester. j’adore toute les préparations à base d’ me fais rare dans les blogs car je suis en vacance , je suis partie en algérie où j’essaye de profiter au maximum, alors je te fais un gros bisou et à bientôt chef joumana.

  16. Joanne says:

    I have been on an eggplant kick lately and have been fiending for new recipes to try! The kibbeh sound like the perfect accompaniment to this sauce!

  17. tom tall clover farm says:

    I not only love your recipes, but really enjoy you photos of Lebanon, a country I’ve always wished to visit.

  18. Barbara says:

    This has everything I love as ingredients, Joumana! Eggplant, lamb, garlic and tomatoes! I am definitely going to try this.
    Is that your towel hanging out the window??

  19. Louise says:

    Oh how I long for a bowl of kibbeh. My Turkish friends “taught” me how to make them long ago. I love the idea of eggplant sauce. It sounds so inviting, much like your wonderful photographs. Thanks for sharing, Joumana…

  20. Cherine says:

    Very interesting recipe. Love eggplants and kibbe!!

  21. heguiberto says:

    This recipe looks great all the vegetarian ingredients I adore! I am going to try making it using tempeh or soy protein instead of meat. Your pics from Lebanon look amazing!

  22. grace says:

    your sauce really makes this an outstanding dish, joumana! great pictures of a tasty meal. 🙂

  23. Nuts about food says:

    Hi! I have been reading you for quite some time now but this is the first time I am commenting. This recipe is irresistible. Now I know that to do with the eggplant in my fridge…Thank you

  24. FOODESSA says:

    I’ll choose veggie kibbehs over meat ones and day…even though I realize that the meat ones are more popular.
    That with a little yogurt sauce on the side and I’m a happy camper ;O)

    The architectural facades are just beautiful.
    Thanks for sharing your part of the world with us,

  25. Cara says:

    This dish has such fabulous flavors and I love the idea of scooping up those little baby meatballs. Nice work!

  26. Rita says:

    I’ve never tried to make kibbeh, but I found on internet (Wikipedia: I know they aren’t usually so correct…) that (I quote) : “In Syria, quince is cooked in pomegranate paste (dibs rouman) with shank meat and kibbeh (a middle eastern meat pie with burghul and mince meat) and is called kibbeh safarjalie.” I also found that there’s a restaurant in Damascus that makes it ( Well, as I have plenty of pomegranates and quinces at home (I have those trees in my garden) I’d love to try to make it. Do you know anything about this recipe? I’d love to hear your opinion!

    • Joumana says:

      I would direct you to Alepine; I think she made it once; her blog is called ParisAlep and is listed on my blogroll. Try also Orange Blossom Water, she is from Damascus. Both of these two bloggers are excellent references for traditional Syrian food. I have also listed Syrian Foodie in London, but I don’t think he posted this recipe although I am sure he knows about it. This is not a kibbeh dish that is Lebanese but in Lebanon we make it with eggplant and shanks and also yogurt sauce and dumplings (sheesh barak).

  27. Rita says:

    Thanks for your help. I’m going to check out these blogs and ask them. Let’s see what will come out!

  28. domi says:

    De jolies petites balles goûteuses et parfumées dans une sauce gourmande….

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