Kibbeh Saj

October 19, 2020  •  Category: , ,

This kibbeh is called sajeeyeh, because it looks like a saj, that ubiquitous propane-powered oven seen on every street corner in Beirut on which bakers make the famous manooshe.  It is made-up of the same dough as a regular kibbeh pie, but with the addition of some red pepper paste and extra seasoning. I like the fact that it is baked instead of fried, it is super easy to shape (as opposed to the round balls that take years of practice!) and it is perfect for a picnic (it does not require utensils).

Kibbeh Saj

Joumana Accad Mediterranean, Middle Eastern October 19, 2020 Whole Grain/Bulgur/Rice, Main Dish, Meats, kibbeh, lebanesefood, saj, finger food,

4-6 servings

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 15 minutes


For the kibbeh shells:

1 lb piece of beef free of visible fat like eye of round or top sirloin, cut into chunks (any fat removed and discarded)

1 1/2 cup bulgur #1

1 small onion, peeled and quartered

A couple ice cubes, if needed

1/4 cup red pepper paste (optional)

Spices: at least 2 tsps each of allspice, cinnamon, cumin, paprika, black or white pepper, salt (divided between the kibbeh shell and the filling)

1 cup olive oil


1 lb fatty ground beef or lamb

1 large onion, chopped

2 Tbsp red pepper paste

1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses (to taste)

1 cup mixed nuts: pine nuts, pistachios or/and chopped walnuts

1/2 cup raisins (optional)





  1. Place the bulgur in a bowl and cover with tap water and soak for about 5 minutes until the bulgur is soft. Then drain well, pressing on it to extract all water if possible.
  2. Place the meat in the bowl of a food processor and process for several minutes until the meat is completely pasty and soft and holds together. Remove from the bowl and set aside.
  3. Place the bulgur and onion and spices in the food processor and process until the onion is chopped and the mixture is uniform. Add the meat, the red pepper paste, a couple ice cubes and process some more until the mixture is pasty and smooth, a few more minutes. Transfer the kibbeh dough to a bowl and cover until ready.
  4. Prepare the filling (can do that the day before): Brown the ground meat with the onion and spices and add the raisins and nuts at the end, tasting to adjust seasoning.
  5. Now roll out the kibbeh dough between two sheets of parchment paper with a rolling pin. The thickness of each layer should not be thicker than 1/4". Cut rounds with a glass or cookie cutter (about 4" in diameter), as if you were making cookies, and remove the extra dough; top each round with about a tablespoon or so of filling, and cover with another round, pressing all around to make it stick. Re-roll the scraps until all the dough is used-up.  Transfer to a greased cookie sheet.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) while making the kibbeh, and when ready, slather each saucer top with olive oil; bake for about 12 minutes or until the kibbeh feels firm to the touch and a bit dry around the edges. Serve right away. Can keep them un-baked in the fridge, covered, and bake them right at serving time.

Recipe Notes

I served these with some thick yogurt mixed with some chili sauce and extra garlic paste. It would work fine with just plain yogurt as well or a salad.


Some people like to fill these with just caramelized onions and chopped walnuts with a touch of red pepper paste or/and pomegranate molasses, which works well.

The red pepper paste found in jars at the grocery store can easily be replaced with a homemade one (and would taste a lot better!) made by roasting a few red bell peppers until charred and peeling them and puréeing them. The homemade pepper purée can be baked in the oven to dry a bit and mixed with some chili powder or garlic or pomegranate molasses.

Lady in Beirut making a zaatar manooshe for a customer on a saj.

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One Comment  •  Comments Feed

  1. Lara Medlej says:

    Thank you Joumana for the great recipe! I made the Kebbe Sajieh last week, and they turned out amazing!

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