Kibbeh is a popular appetizer in Israel. Made out of bulgur and minced meat, kibbeh is fried and oblong-shaped. The first time I tasted kibbeh it reminded me of the fried boudin balls I grew up eating at the local gas station in Lake Charles, Louisiana. In its own weird way, eating kibbeh in Beer Sheva was like tasting a little piece of home when I needed some familiar comfort food. *This recipe makes a very large batch of kibbeh. I fry half of the balls and the other half I freeze. When they are defrosted they still fry nicely.
3 pounds ground beef or lamb, finely ground and divided
1 cup fine bulgur wheat
2 cups onion, finely chopped and divided
2 basil leaves, chopped (optional)
1 ½ tablespoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon allspice
½ cup toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
vegetable oil for frying
1) For the kibbeh shell, rinse the bulgur wheat in cold water. Leave the bulgur in a bowl of cold water (just enough to cover) for 1 hour. Drain well. Remove excess water from bulgur with a paper towel or cheesecloth.
2) Mix the bulgur with 2 lbs of the meat in a food processor. Set aside.
3) Next in the food processor blend 1 cup of onion, basil, 1 tbsp salt, black pepper and allspice. Combine the bulgur/meat mixture with the onion mixture until it forms a dough. This should take about 5 minutes of kneading it by hand.
4) In a separate pan, prepare the filling. Sauté the remaining 1 cup of onion in the olive oil. Add pine nuts for a few minutes, being careful not to burn them. Add the remaining 1 lb of ground meat, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and cinnamon. Cut up the meat fine as it browns. Set aside and let it cool.
5) While the meat is cooling, shape the shell mixture by hand into the shape of golf balls or eggs. Poke a hole with your finger in each ball to make room for the meat filling. Add the filling to the hole and then pinch the top to seal it.
6) Fry the kibbeh in 350 degree oil on the stove or in a deep fryer. This takes about five minutes or until the kibbeh are golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
*Recipe by Shelley Neese, vice president of The Jerusalem Connection. Click here for her articles and videos.