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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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