Red lentil Kibbeh

January 21, 2010  •  Category: ,


This recipe is adapted  from Chef Ramzi’s The Culinary Heritage of Lebanon; it comes from the district of Bint Jbeil in South The  area was subjected to so many bombing operations over a span of so many decades that I find it amazing that it managed to survive and boast a remarkable cuisine based on grains and vegetables. This is the region where roasted green wheat is produced freekeh, as well as the blend of spices and herbs  called kammooneh.

This is considered a winter dish but I would advance that it is fine in other seasons as well since one eats it at room temperature. Mainly, it is very healthy, fully vegetarian, and very nourishing!

This dish is based on three main components: orange split lentils, bulgur and kammooneh or seasonings.

Kammooneh is a combination of spices and herbs specific to the South of Lebanon and in this dish, to the district of Bint Jbeil. It is made up of the following:

  • onion
  • mint
  • cumin
  • marjoram
  • hot red chili  pepper

INGREDIENTS: For about 4 servings

  • 1 1/2 cups orange  split lentils
  • 3/4  cup bulgur (extra-fine or #1, bleached or white preferably)
  • 3 cups of water
  • Kammooneh: 2 Tablespoons dried mint, crumbled
  • 3 Tablespoons ground cumin
  • 3 Tablespoons marjoram
  • 1 Tablespoon hot red pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon grated orange rind (Thank you Dana Jaber!)
  • 1  large onion chopped very fine

METHOD: I used Mrs. Marlene Mattar’s Maeedat Marlene mina al-shark wal-gharb, for her precise instructions.

  1. Place the lentils and water in a pot over slow heat and simmer for about 30 minutes (cover the pot only partially) until the lentils are thoroughly cooked and there is a bit of cooking water left in the pot.
  2. Pour the bulgur and let it absorb the rest of the cooking water for a few minutes longer.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a few tablespoons of oil or butter in a skillet and fry the onion over slow heat until it becomes translucent. Add all the spices  (adjust the proportions according to taste) and a couple tablespoons of water and let the mixture combine well and the water evaporate.
  4. Mix the onion and spice mixture with the lentil and bulgur mixture well.
  5. Let the mixture cool and stiffen a bit. Form oval-shaped balls and place on a platter; drizzle olive oil over them. Place fresh herbs such as mint, parsley, some red pepper, tomatoes, dressed with  lemon juice and olive oil. Serve with some whole-wheat pita bread.

NOTE: You can substitute one (or more, to taste) tablespoon of red pepper paste for the spice or hot  red pepper spice ground.


25 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Bria says:

    Wow, this is a pretty cool recipe. I’ve had something similar before at a street fair; it was sooo good. Am thrilled now to have a recipe to try out at home. As fortune would have it, I have a fresh sack of red lentils waiting to be used. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Rosa says:

    Those look gorgeous!



  3. rajani@eatwritethink says:

    this looks fabulous, i am sure it must be delicious!

  4. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    That is so healthy and delicious! Thankyou for this recipe! 😀

  5. Doria says:

    Qu’est-ce que c’est joli à la vue !
    Une très belle recette que tu me fais découvrir !
    Bisous, Doria

  6. Simply Life says:

    wow what a beautiful presentation! this looks great!

  7. SE says:

    wow…loved this dish…so much like the vegetarian kebabs that we prepare, but we lightly shallow fry these …

  8. TastyTrix says:

    Funny, I have every single ingredient on hand except the mint, which I am sure is essential. Well, not often I just need to buy one ting to make a lovely dinner like this!!

  9. spice says:

    perefct click & very good recipe…’s so interesting that how different cuisines uses almost same ingredients to make similar kind of dishes but in very different way, in Indian cuisine similar to this kind is lentil kebabs….

  10. peter says:

    I suppose these could be fried too? These would be good for Greek Lent…coming up early this year.

  11. Arlette says:

    Kbbet El Addas looks delicious, beautiful photos as well
    I am waiting for Lent, to post my virsion, which we add chopped mint,parsley and green onions to the kibbee mix , and we serve it with a herb salad (parsley,mint,green onions, and tomatoes all chopped finely)

    healthy and yummy food any food.
    thanks for sharing

  12. Rachana Kothari says:

    Those look really delicious:) and as usual lovely presentation:)

  13. HistoryOf GreekFood says:

    They are similar to Turkish mercimek koftesi, aren’t they? I like them a lot!!

  14. Alépine says:

    Très belle présentation ! J’en ai l’eau à la bouche

  15. Bria says:

    Update: I just made these today. What a nifty recipe! I love the flexibility–I can see using different flavorings to subtly tweak the taste. I might experiment with pan or oven-frying some of them for extra crunch. A nice creamy dipping sauce would go well here, too.

    Forgive me if I’m going non-traditional. It’s just that this recipe inspires creativity. But of course, it’s absolutely perfect in the form you presented it in as well. 🙂

    Joumana, if you have any thoughts or tips on how to pan or oven fry them, please let me know.

  16. Julie says:

    Encore une fois, je suis bluffée par tes photos qui mettent vraiment l’eau à la bouche!
    Merci de partager de si jolies recettes!
    Gros bisous!

  17. TastyTrix says:

    I made these last night! They were delicious, and I served them with an onion flatbread and a yogurt/sumac/lemon sauce. A new favorite, yum!!

  18. cmiranda says:

    Very nice vegetarian recipe

  19. Hillary says:

    I wanted a tasty dish to take to a potluck, where many attendees were vegetarian, and this kibbé was ideal. I had eaten a lamb kibbé years ago, and lentils are my favorite legume, so I gave this a try. I used Penzey’s Aleppo Pepper for the hot spice, followed the measurements exactly (first time!), and served with olive oil and lemon juice drizzle, and dishes of cilantro, chopped fresh tomato, yogurt, crumbled feta, pink salt, fresh ground pepper, and sumac. The kibbé was a delicious hit, and I’m already planning the next batch. Thank you for this excellent recipe!

  20. domi says:

    Une belle recette qui a l’ air très goûteuse et qui m’ aidera à cuisiner les lentilles autrement. Bisous et merci de ce gourmand partage, passe un bon mercredi

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