Aside from Asian cuisine, Middle Eastern/Mediterranean also top our list of favorite food. There's something about how they eat - it seems to be a little lighter, healthier, and simpler. Although I must say, this dish that I made was probably a poor example of what I just said.
Kibbeh is a dish made of ground meat and rice or bulgur. According to Wikipedia, the word kibbeh comes from the Arabic word "kubbah" which means ball. However, for some reasons, all of the kibbehs I have had in restaurants were shaped like a football. It is but natural, of course, to make mine in the same shape. ;-)
Fair warning - this is probably one of the hardest dishes I have made. It was just so difficult to make those football shapes since there was no binder (the recipe didn't call for eggs). I promised myself I wouldn't make this again unless my family's life depended on it. If ever we have a craving for kibbeh, I would just make a trip to our favorite Lebanese resto.
Don't let me scare you from trying, though. The dish was so good and tasty. I tweaked Emeril's recipe from here. And the yogurt garlic sauce went beautifully with the dish. It was so well worth the effort!
What you need:
For the shell:
1 cup bulgur wheat
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup roughly chopped yellow onions
1 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the filling:
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Canola oil, for frying
yogurt garlic sauce (recipe follows)
What to do:
To make the outer shells, cook bulgur wheat according to package directions. Make sure to drain them in a strainer and press to remove excess liquid. Set aside to cool.
Using you food processor, blend the beef, onion, cumin, salt and pepper to a paste. Add bulgur wheat and mix well. Process again until you get a smooth consistency. Add ice water if it seemed dry. If your food processor is small (like mine), you might have to do it in batches.
To make the stuffing, brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions, salt, allspice, pepper, and cinnamon. Stir well. Remove from heat, then add the almonds and stir again to distribute ingredients evenly. Set aside to cool.
To make the dish, use about two tablespoonfuls of the raw meat-bulgur mixture and form round balls. Flatten the balls a bit and make a semi-hole down the center of each ball with your index finger. Stuff each ball with about one tablespoon of stuffing. Press down on the sides to enclose the stuffing and shape into an egg with pointed ends. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Heat Canola oil in a deep frying pan over medium. Add the kibbeh balls and fry until brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and let drain on a cooling rack. Serve with yogurt garlic sauce.
Yogurt Garlic Sauce
What you need:
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh mint leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a medium bowl, whisk the yogurt until smooth and creamy. Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk to combine.
Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:
1. Aside from beef, you can also use lamb.
2. Fine bulgur is best to use (I used medium).
3. The original recipe called for pine nuts. Since they are sooooo expensive, I substituted with almond.
4. Some recipes used mint leaves in the shell. Do so if you please.
5. Serve the dish with traditional labneh instead of the sauce.
6. Wet your hands frequently when shaping the balls.