Salma Hage’s recipe book “The Lebanese Kitchen” is a wonderful trip into a classic Lebanese kitchen and all the fragrant and wonderful dishes which are created within. Opening this recipe book is like stepping straight into the heart of the Lebanese culture which revolves around food and family. Hage’s mini lamb kibbeh and yoghurt recipe is as traditional Lebanese food as turkey on Christmas day. Kibbeh, considered as the national dish of Lebanon is made of bulghur, minced onions and ground red meat. Kibbeh is a widespread favourite amongst the Levantine cuisine, including Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Cyprus and Turkey.
This involved recipe is worth the time it takes to create as each ingredient is added with love and patience and in the end it is enjoyed in the same manner as created.
1 large onion
600g boneless leg of lamb – diced
2½ cups bulghur wheat, soaked in water for 10 minutes then squeezed out into a muslin cloth.
1t Seven spices seasoning (recipe below)
2t ground cumin
1t dried mint
2 cups natural plain yoghurt
⅓ cup basmati rice – rinsed
1t olive oil
3 garlic cloves – chopped
2T fresh mint
For the filling:
1T olive oil
200g lamb mince
1 onion – chopped
⅓ cup pine nuts – toasted
½t seven spices seasoning
½t ground coriander
½t ground cinnamon
Seven Spices Seasoning:
5T ground allspice
3½T ground cinnamon
5T ground cloves
4T ground nutmeg
4T ground fenugreek
4T ground ginger
Thoroughly mix all the spices together. Store in an airtight container in a dark place.
- Heat oil in a frying pan, add the lamb and cook over a medium heat, stirring frequently, for 8-10 minutes until evenly browned.
- Reduce heat and add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.
- Stir in the pine nuts, seven spice seasoning, pepper, salt, coriander, and cinnamon, cook for a few more minutes until fragrant and remove pan from the heat.
- Put onion and lamb into a food processor and process until finely ground (minced). Place in a bowl.
- Add bulghur wheat, seven spices seasoning, half the cumin, pepper, and dried mint. Knead until thoroughly incorporated.
- Dampen your hands with a little water, take a handful of the mixture, and mould into an oval to fit in the palm of your hand. Use your index finger to make a hole in the top, the grandually make a hollow, working around with your fingers to create a thin wall.
- Add a tablespoon of the filling, seal with a pinch, and reshape into an oval. Repeat until all the lamb and bulghur mixture has been used.
- Put Kibbeh onto a baking sheet and chill in refrigerator for 1 hour.
- While Kibbeh is chilling, pour the yoghurt into a large pan and add 1½ cups water, then whisk in the cornstarch and bring to the boil, whisking constantly.
- Add the rice, then add the kibbeh, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Heat oil in a separate pan, add the garlic and cook over a low heat, stirring frequently, for a few minutes until lightly golden.
- Add garlic to kibbeh, add remaining cumin and fresh mint.
- Season well with salt and pepper and serve.