Pumpkin/Sweet potatoes kibbeh balls

January 22, 2022  •  Category: , ,

These kibbeh have an exquisite faintly sweet taste;  they are a bit challenging to make from scratch simply because the pumpkin is mostly water and to obtain a kibbeh dough suitable to be shaped into balls you would need to  use a LOT of bulgur and in doing so, the bulgur would overpower the sweet taste of pumpkin. Besides, who wants to eat fried bulgur?

To remedy the issue, I added sweet potatoes to the dough. The sweet potatoes add much needed starch and give the dough more body; this way, there is no need for a lot of bulgur. Still, more starch is needed, so I used almond flour and some gluten-free cracker meal to “tighten” the dough and make it easier to shape. I also sprinkled flour when shaping the kibbeh, (but cornstarch could also be used).

Incidentally, I made my original recipe (based on my cookbook) in Sharjah (UAE) back when I was invited at their International Book Fair. The chef who helped me told me later on that he used that same recipe at a competition and he won and it made me happy.

Anyway, here is a revised version, that is more versatile and easier than the original pumpkin kibbeh. I use different spices depending on what is in my pantry (and my mood) but try to always include cinnamon, smoked paprika, turmeric, and a bit of a seasoning combo like the one I found at the Knorr Halal Chicken seasoning a few months ago. Otherwise, just use the spice mix you like. Dried rose petals would work here, as would cumin or coriander and different peppers to give the dough a little flavor without being overwhelming.

Pumpkin/Sweet potatoes kibbeh balls

Joumana Accad Mediterranean, Middle Eastern January 22, 2022 Main Dish, Whole Grain/Bulgur/Rice, Mezze/Appetizers, Vegan Kibbe, sweet potatoes, kibbeh, semolina, almond flour, onion, bulgur, pumpkin,

30-35 kibbeh servings

Prep Time: 3 hours

Cook Time: 3 minutes

Passive Time: 12 hours


2 lbs cooked pumpkin and sweet potatoes

1 onion, grated or chopped very fine

1 cup bulgur #1 (extra fine)

1 cup semolina (can replace with bulgur #1)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour or other type of flour (more as needed)

1/2 cup powdered cracker crumbs (more as needed)

2 tsp salt, to taste OR 2 tsp Knorr Halal Chicken seasoning

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp white or black ground pepper

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp paprika or Aleppo pepper or chili powder (to taste)


4 bunches of greens (can be Swiss chard, spinach, kale, mustard or turnip greens or a combination of all), washed and chopped

3 onions, chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

Spices: salt, to taste, 1 tsp allspice, 2 Tbsp sumac (to taste), 1/2 tsp cinnamon (of desired) or cumin

1 Tbsp date syrup or brown sugar (to caramelize the onions)

1 cup cooked chickpeas (optional)

1 cup chopped walnuts or other nuts (optional)

To serve: Chili tahini sauce

(make a classic tarator and add some Sriracha or a few drops of bottled Chili sauce or a few pinches of ground Chili powder)





  1. Place the sweet potatoes and pumpkin (one large piece weighing about 1/2 pound) on a pan, add about 1 1/2 cup of water and bake for about 40 minutes in a 350F oven until they are tender (pierce with a fork to check). Turn off the oven, let them cool,  peel them and cut into chunks; transfer both to a bowl, mash the pulp of both vegetables  well until smooth.
  2. Add the bulgur to the pumpkin/sweet potatoes pulp and add the other ingredients ( semolina, almond flour, gluten-free cracker meal, etc), grated onion, along with the spices. Mix well, cover and leave in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
  3. While the dough is resting overnight in the fridge, prepare the stuffing. Heat the oil in a large skillet with a lid, and stir-fry the onions until they caramelize over a medium-low heat setting. Add the date syrup or sugar to speed-up the process and sweeten the mixture a bit. Add the chopped greens and cover the skillet for a few minutes. When the greens have reduced in volume take out the lid, stir fry a bit and add the spices, tasting as you go to adjust seasoning. When the greens are softened and the taste is perfect, turn off the heat, cool, cover and set the skillet in the fridge till the next day or whenever you are ready to shape the kibbeh balls. At this point, you can add the chickpeas or nuts if desired and mix to combine well.
  4. Mix the kibbeh dough again, testing to see if it needs more flour or if it is firm enough to be shaped into balls. On a cookie sheet lined with paper or foil, shape the kibbeh dough into large balls of (more or less even size). Place a bowl of flour or cornstarch and a bowl of ice water nearby to help in shaping the balls. Start shaping each balls, by digging a hole with the index finger, thinning out the kibbeh ball delicately, and filling it with a spoonful of the greens. Seal each kibbeh ball and place on the cookie sheet. If needed, sprinkle flour or cornstarch on the balls to help in shaping them (so that they do not stick).
  5. Place the kibbeh balls when shaped into the freezer for a couple hours or overnight, tightly covered with plastic.
  6. Heat an oil bath to 375F and fry the kibbeh balls till golden (about 3 to 4 minutes). Serve warm or at room temperature with the chili tahini sauce and some lemon or lime slices.

Recipe Notes

These kibbeh will freeze well, uncooked. This makes it very convenient for preparing ahead of a party. Just fry from the freezer to the oil bath. You can also bake them, but they wont be as crispy, even when coated with a little oil.

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2 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Nienke says:

    Hi these look awesome and want to give a try. Do I first need to well the bulgur? And can I bake them in the oven too?

  2. Joumana says:

    @Nienke No need to well the bulgur because the pumpkin has enough water in it. As long as you let it rest a while. Otherwise, if you want to use it right away, then soak the bulgur a few minutes and drain well. As far as baking, yes, why not, but spray it or coat it in oil before baking in a 375F oven. Good luck

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