Kibbeh is extremely popular in the Middle-East and is the national dish of Syria. It is basically finely minced, lean lamb or beef, mixed with bulgar wheat, minced onion and spices. This Kibbeh bin Sanieh is kibbeh served in a tray kind of like a fancy meatloaf or a meat cake? Though is can also be served shaped into balls and deep fried, like meaty falafel, or served raw! I heard that it is meant to be a real test of a chef’s skills if they can serve this raw so, when mixing my lamb, onion and spices together, I did sneak a nervous little pinch and ate it raw as if it was something that could explode in my mouth and kill me. I liked it! Unfortunately though, it will join steak tartar and sushi in the category of ‘Raw things I will never serve at a dinner party’. While I love all these things myself, I fell my guests (and I) should only eat them when served by an expert, not a self-proclaimed rookie.
This Kibbeh bin Sanieh should be cooked is a large pie tin. As I only had loose-based ones, I lined it with tin foil. It is assembled by putting a layer of the lamb mix in the bottom, covering it with a layer of minced beef cooked with onions, pine nuts and baharat and topped with another layer of lamb and baked. It really was so delicious, a lot more so than it was photogenic. I think my portions maybe would have looked better if I had let them rest for 5 minutes before taking them out of the tin.
This would be perfect for a Welcome Dinner, where native households welcome Syrian refugees to their town by hosting a dinner party for them.
- 300g bulgar wheat
- 250ml water
- 4 large onions, 2 finely chopped, 2 minced
- half a tsp of ground cinnamon
- 1 and a half tsp ground pepper
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 500g lean minced beef
- 3 tsp sea salt flakes
- 2 generous tsp baharat (Lebanese 7 spice)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3-4 tbsp pine nuts, plus extra for garnish
- 1 Kg very lean, very finely minced lamb
- the juice of half a lemon
- 2 heaped tbsp natural Greek yogurt
- 3 tbsp tahini
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 pinch of sea salt flakes
- cold water
- The day before, soak the bulgar wheat in the water and allow to soak overnight.
- Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a frying pan and add the beef. Break it up with with a wooden spoon as you cook it for a good while over a low heat until it is all coloured.
- Add the cinnamon, pepper, 1 tsp sea salt flakes and 1 generous tsp baharat. Mix it in and add the 2 chopped onions. Cook low and slow until the onions are soft and translucent.
- In the meantime, melt the butter in another pan and add the pine nuts. Stir-fry until the nuts just begin to colour then pour the nuts and butter over the beef and set aside to cool completely.
- Next, drain the soaked bulgar and combine it with the lamb, minced onions, 2 tsp sea salt flakes and the remaining tsp of baharat and mix everything together until evenly combined. Use your hands. Set aside for half an hour to let the flavours develop.
- Now make the Tahini sauce by combining the lemon juice, yogurt, tahini, vinegar and a pinch of sea salt flakes and whisking together until smooth. Whisk in a little cold water, bit by bit, until the sauce has loosened to your desired consistency.
- To assemble the Kibbeh, pour a tbsp of olive oil into a round baking tray, about 12 inches, and rub it in.
- Take about half of the lamb mixture and build a thin layer of it on the bottom of the tray, bringing it up the sides.
- Add the now cool beef mixture and flatten it out evenly.
- Add another layer of the lamb on top of the beef and smoothen it out.
- With a knife or spatula, portion it out and drizzle with about 2 tbsp of olive oil.
- Garnish each portion with a pine nut and transfer the tray to a preheated oven at 200 degrees celsius for about 30 minutes.
- Take it out and let it cool for 5 minutes before serving and drizzling with the tahini sauce.