Rice Kibbeh (Kibbet Halab)

April 25, 2020  •  Category: ,

I love this kibbeh, which hails from Aleppo but is also very popular in Iraq. It distinguishes itself by its rice shell, which gets crunchy after frying, but soft inside. It is a traditional dish; I veered away from tradition slightly by sprinkling the kibbeh with toasted sesame seeds, and playing around with the stuffing by adding raisins.

Rice kibbeh

Joumana Accad Mediterranean, Middle Eastern April 25, 2020 Main Dish, Mezze/Appetizers, mezze, kibbeh, glutenfree, Aleppo food, iraqifood, syrianfood, bites, appetizers, tagged,

6-8 servings

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Passive Time: 24 hour


30 kibbeh balls

2 1/2 cups starchy rice (sushi, or Italian or Egyptian or "broken rice")

1/2 cup breadcrumbs (can use gluten-free) or fine semolina

2 tsp turmeric (or pinch of saffron bloomed in a bit of hot water)

1 tsp white pepper

2 tsp salt (or to taste)

4 cups water

Oil bath 


3/4 pound ground meat

1/2 cup almond slivered or pine nuts or pistachios or a mix

1/2 cup raisins

1 Tbsp red pepper paste or chili sauce (optional)

1 small onion, chopped

2 Tbsp ghee or oil or clarified butter

Spices: 1 Tbsp seven-spice, 1 tsp cardamom, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp black pepper, salt to taste

1. The day before: Cook the rice until it forms pockets and dries-up. Add the turmeric and spices and mix, tasting to adjust seasonings. Transfer the rice to a greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle the semolina or breadcrumbs and mix a bit. Spread it out flat and let it cool in the fridge covered overnight. 

2. Prepare the stuffing: In a skillet, stir-fry the nuts in a couple tablespoons of ghee or oil, then remove and set aside when golden, then add the chopped onions. Fry till soft then add the meat, pressing it with a couple wooden spoons to break it up into small pieces. Add the spices and raisins and cook until the meat is browned. Add the nuts, mix, and taste to adjust if needed; set aside covered in the fridge until the rice is ready. 

3. Prepare your work area: Place a bowl with ice water nearby, the rice and the stuffing. Score the rice into 30 squares or so. Start lifting each square, knead it a few seconds, shape it into a ball and insert a finger in the middle. Thin it out using ice water to minimize the stickiness and fill the hole with a generous teaspoon of stuffing. Close it up by pinching gently and keep shaping the ball by rolling it back and forth between the palms of your hands. Set each ball on a cookie sheet. 

4. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer. Cover loosely or if not using that day, you can simply place them when solid in a tight container to use within the next couple of weeks. 

5. Fry the balls in hot oil (360F) when they are thoroughly frozen. I sprinkled them with toasted sesame seeds after shaping them but this is not traditional. 

6. Serve hot and crispy with a side of plain yogurt. 






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4 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Christiann says:

    It’s so hard for me to steer away from the traditional! Always been that way! But it does look good!

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  3. Iraqi tradition says:

    Hi my dear,
    I hope you don’t take offense in this message, rather benefit from the information I’m providing.
    There are few varieties of kibbeh that belongs to the Syrian cuisine, but definitely not this.
    This is merely and only an Iraqi recipe. There’s a story behind it of why it was called Haleb.
    The merchants back in the days used to pass by the Iraqi lands for bussiness and trade ventures, and they will always came back for this Kubbeh that was so popular.
    The Iraqi people decided to honor their neighboring people by naming it after them.
    This is a simplified story of why it’s called kubbeh Haleb. If anyone has given you the wrong information, please correct them.
    We honor and respect each recipe, and gladly share it.
    I hope you take this information as a friendly reminder and a new knowledge.
    Have a great day.

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