Kibbeh bil Saniyeh

This dish is one of the few middle eastern foods I know how to make.  Kibbeh can be prepared in a number of ways, none of which I have entirely mastered.  I have had advice from my Syrian best friend, a Lebanese friend from law school, and the very patient and generous owners of a Lebanese Restaurant here in Victoria called Wrap N Roll to tweak this recipe towards perfection.  Note that you can use beef or lamb but I prefer the flavour of lamb by far.  At my best friends suggestion, this can be served with a beetroot mutabal.

Kibbeh bil Saniyeh - A Pat & A Pinch


1 c. fine bulgar wheat
500 g. lean lamb, finely ground (twice through a grinder)
2 large onions, finely grated
1 1/2 tbsp. baharat kibbeh (*approx. based on the spice mix I use)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. black pepper, freshly cracked
1 tbsp. olive oil


2 tbsp. olive oil
500 g. ground lamb (once through a grinder)
4 large onions, chopped finely
2 tbsp. baharat kibbeh (*approx. based on the spice mix I use)

1 tbsp. pomegranate syrup (optional)

1 tsp. salt
1½ tsp. black pepper, freshly cracked
1 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. pine nuts

Soak the bulgar in boiling water for approximately 20 minutes and then drain the water from it.

Meanwhile, begin the filling. Toast the pine nuts by frying them in the butter until they begin to brown.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onions.  Once the onions are translucent, add the ground lamb, stirring until it is browned.  Mix in the baharat, pomegranate syrup, salt, pepper, and pine nuts and let it cook until the juices have mostly evaporated.  Allow this to cool while preparing the kibbeh.

In a bowl, mix the bulgar, the finely ground lamb, the grated onion, and the baharat, spices, salt, and pepper using your hands.  Keep some cold water nearby to add if necessary to keep the mixture soft.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Oil a deep glass pan (I prefer round but any shape will work).

Handful by handful, create a layer of the kibbeh by flattening the kibbeh between your palms before pressing it into the bottom of the pan until it is covered.  Note: this should use about 1/2 of the kibbeh.  With moist hands, ensure that the surface of the kibbeh is smooth and that there are no cracks or holes between.  Spoon in the filling and ensure that it is evenly spread atop the kibbeh, press lightly to ensure it is packed.  Using the same technique as before with the rest of the kibbeh, cover the filling and make ensure that it is smooth.  Score the kibbeh with a knife in a pattern that pleases you and pour a bit of olive oil over the top of the dish.  Cook for about half an hour.

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