the appetizer:

Classic Lebanese Cuisine: 170 Fresh and Healthy Mediterranean Favorites by Kamal Al-Faqih, includes recipes like Lentil Soup with Ruby Swiss Chard and Lemon (Adas bi Hamood); Lamb Kibbi Tray (Kibbi bi Saniyeh); Yogurt Cucumber Salad (Laban bi Khyar); and Lamb Turbans (Lahm bi Ajeen).

Cookbook Profile

Lamb (or Beef, or Chicken)
Kibbi Tray

Kibbi bi Saniyeh (kib-bee bee sa-nee-yee)

One 9-inch tray (4 Servings)

Kibbi Tray


Kibbi is a mixture of spiced meat, onion, and bulgur wheat ground together and made into a variety of shapes and sizes. The most common forms are kibbi bi saniyeh, which is traditionally baked in a round tray and served in wedges, and kibbi kebab, kibbi balls (page 24 of the book). As children, we would devour kibbi balls with ketchup. Traditionally, kibbi is served with Yogurt Cucumber Salad or Cabbage and Beet Salad (page 50). That's not to say there aren't other ways to enjoy kibbi, as we still do with ketchup and fries.

Specialty ingredients: Bulgur wheat #1 (fine), found in specialty markets or online.

Special equipment: A meat grinder and an 9-inch round cake pan that is 2 inches deep.

Prepare ahead: The kibbi tray can be prepared and frozen raw for several weeks in airtight plastic. Bake as directed without thawing. Baked trays can be refrigerated for several days or frozen for several weeks. Reheat thawed trays at 350 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes. Note: The bulgur must soak overnight.

For the Kibbi

(You can substitute beef [top round London broil] or boneless/skinless chicken breast in place of the lamb.)

For the Kibbi Filling

(You can substitute ground beef or chicken for the ground lamb.)

To Prepare the Kibbi (Soak Overnight)

Combine the bulgur with 1 cup water in a bowl. Stir well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, sealing it around the edges. Refrigerate overnight to allow the bulgur to expand. (This will make it easier to work with once it is ground.)

To Prepare the Kibbi Filling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pine nuts over a foil-lined baking sheet and toast in the center of the oven, shaking the tray occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden brown. Mix the melted butter with the nuts. Transfer to a paper towel-lined dish. Set aside.

Preheat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground meat and cook, breaking it into small, minced pieces. Once the meat is no longer pink, reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the onions, salt, and spices. Saute until the onions are tender, then set aside to cool.

To Prepare the Kibbi (the Following Day)

Remove the soaked bulgur from the refrigerator and set it aside. Combine the salt, pepper, allspice, and cinnamon in a bowl. Pass the meat and onion (mixed together) through a meat grinder fitted with a fine-cutting plate, and add to the bowl with the seasonings. Mix well.

Add the soaked bulgur to the seasoned meat mixture. Using massage-like strokes, work the bulgur into the meat until it is evenly combined. Pass the mixture through the same meat grinder fitted with the fine-cutting plate, and once again use massage-like strokes to combine the ground mixture. Shape it into a ball and set it aside.

To Prepare the Kibbi Tray

Grease the sides and bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan that is 2 inches deep with some olive oil and set it aside.

Set a small bowl of cold water within reach. Cut the ball of kibbi in half. Between 2 pieces of plastic wrap, roll one half of the kibbi into a 9-inch circle. Flip it into the bottom of the pan. Dip your fingers in the water and gently press and smooth the kibbi, distributing it evenly along the bottom of the pan.

Place the filling over the kibbi. Use the tines of a fork to evenly distribute the filling up to, but not touching, the sides of the pan. Distribute the pine nuts over the filling. Roll the other half of the kibbi the same way and place it in the pan over the filling. Dip your hand in the water and press down, firmly securing the filling in the center and allowing any air pockets to escape. Use your fingers to smooth out the kibbi evenly until the surface is level.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Dip the tip of a butter knife into the water and cut the pan of kibbi into four wedges. Score the top of each wedge, making a pattern of squares or diamonds. Dip the tip of the knife in the water and re-cut the kibbi into wedges, (this will allow the oil to seep in between the wedges prior to baking).

Insert the tip of the knife around the rim of the pan, loosening the kibbi from the sides. Pour 1/3 cup olive oil over the top of the kibbi and rotate the pan, evenly distributing the oil over the top and down the sides.

Place the pan on the middle rack in the oven and bake 35 to 40 minutes or until the kibbi is browned around the edges, then remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

To Serve

Offer the kibbi warm, using each wedge as a serving. Alternatively, cut each wedge into 2 or 3 pieces. Offer with Cabbage and Beet Salad (recipe on page 50 of the book) or Yogurt Cucumber Salad.

Preparing Kibbi

It is important to get the moisture-to-bulgur ratio correct. Sometimes you may have to toss in a little extra bulgur if the kibbi mixture seems too damp, and at other times you may need to dip your hands in water to introduce additional moisture.

Several recipes for kibbi recommend using a food processor to prepare the kibbi. I have not had good results using that method. I find it does not grind the bulgur wheat the same way a meat grinder does.


Buy Classic Lebanese Cuisine


Classic Lebanese Cuisine
170 Fresh and Healthy Mediterranean Favorites


This page created March 2010