Kibbeh as in Mosul (Iraq)

October 26, 2014  •  Category: ,

I used to be a kibbeh-centric Lebanese. Then I had an opportunity to visit Iraq and discover its wonders, as well as enjoy its cuisine, the most ancient cuisine in the region and the one that influenced most other countries in the Middle East.

In Mosul, kibbeh is shaped like a very wide saucer, with very thin layers and a stuffing studded with dried fruits and nuts. Mosul kibbeh is poached in water, not fried. The shell is made of cracked wheat (jreesh) and semolina flour.

My friends in Bagdad buy their Mosul kibbeh ready-made. This version requires a wide pot and a colander of the same size to simmer the kibbeh. It can also be greased and baked.


  • 2 cups bulgur fine (#1) or cracked wheat (fine)
  • 1 cup semolina flour
  • ¾ lb. ground veal or beef (fat-free)
  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup slivered almonds, pine nuts or pistachios or other
  • 1/2 cup of raisins or other
  • Salt, black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp. allspice or to taste AND 1 tsp. turmeric or to taste
  1. In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat the oil and pan-fry the onion till golden; add the lamb and brown it, using 2 wooden spoons to prevent big lumps from forming. Add the salt and pepper, raisins and almonds, stirring till the meat is cooked.
  2. Mix the semolina and bulgur in a bowl, and rinse under tap water then drain and press to extract all excess water; add the meat and spices allspice and mix to combine into a smooth dough, preferably in a food processor.
  3. Break up the dough into 8 balls of equal size. Roll out each ball between 2 pieces of plastic wrap or wax paper until thin and even; spread the stuffing with a spatula, leaving ¾” of empty margin all around. Make another round and flip it over the filled lower level; seal by pinching tightly. Continue until all kibbeh are shaped and ready to be poached.
  4. Fill a large pot (sufficiently wide for the kibbeh to fit) with water and a tablespoon of salt; using a colander with a handle, drop the kibbeh in the boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain it and set it aside and continue this operation with the remaining kibbeh.
  5. Serve the kibbeh warm with pickles (torshi) on the side.

NOTE: The kibbeh can be lightly fried (after boiling) right before serving to get a crunchy shell.

To facilitate the shaping of the kibbeh, place a round metal (from a pie or quiche mold) under the sheet of plastic in order to delimitate the round shape of the kibbeh.

If using cracked wheat, soak it in hot water for 15 minutes to soften it then drain it very well.

poach kibbeh
poach kibbeh


14 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Nadine says:

    Hi Joumana!

    I am crazy about your blog and have been reading it for many years!
    Being Iraqi I especially love all the Iraqi recipes you post!
    I was intrigued when you said that you have friends in Baghdad, are they still living there? My entire family has since left Iraq, sadly.

  2. Joumana says:

    @Nadine: yes, they are still there and in the same house that i lived in as a child while visiting decades ago! I am planning to go visit them in 2015 inshallah!

  3. Nadine says:

    Wow! I would love to go too – I was born in Baghdad.
    If you think they might be interested in participating an art project I’m doing, which involves Iraqi residents, please send me a private message!
    Keep up the wonderful blog and let me know if you ever come to Berlin on a book tour! 🙂

  4. Oui, Chef says:

    Hard to believe kibbehs can be so different, huh? This one looks so elegant, nice photo, Joumana!

  5. Joumana says:

    @Nadine: I am sure some of their friends might be; she was a former science teacher in high school and he is a cardiologist and still teaches at the Faculty of Medicine of Bagdad. I have a facebook friend who is an Iraqi artist. just cant seem to remember his name now. when I do I will send it to you.
    Thanks for the invite. I had a friend from Berlin once, she was so artistic and such a free spirit. I’d definitely flag you, thanks! 🙂

  6. Hélène (Cannes) says:

    ET je prends cette recette-là aussi … Une cuisson vraiment originale …

  7. MyKabulKitchen says:

    These look trickier to make, but I love that the kibbeh is boiled and not fried 🙂

  8. Mary says:

    Can you freeze this kibbeh . if yes raw or poached

  9. Maurice S Peress says:

    We used to buy Bibbet Mosul. Three per box, made in Hamiltron Ontario.
    Where can we buy it please.
    Is it available in Montreal,
    Please let us know.
    Thank you

  10. David says:

    Hi Joumana, I am of Iraqi origin and miss the Mosul kibbeh my i used to eat earlier in life. I didn’t understand from your recipe if the beef/lamb goes in part to the bulger semolina coating mix or just as a filling. Can you please advise. Many thanks, David

    • Joumana Accad says:

      @David: I am sorry for the delay in answering. I am having the site redesigned. Yes, the beef goes into the shell. Now I have seen similar kibbeh in the Kurdish regions done only with semolina and jreesh which is cracked wheat and filled with veggies.

  11. chris says:

    Thanks for publishing this. I used to eat this in Iraq and was so happy to find a recipe online. I’ll send a comment and pics after I make it. Thank you.

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