Stuffed Meatballs, Kibbeh

October 28, 2018


Recipe excerpted from Syria © 2018, Emily Lycopolus. Recipe and

images  by DL Acken reprinted with the  permission of  TouchWood



Stuffed Meatballs



Kibbeh is a staple dish in Syrian cuisine. This bulgur-based treat is

prepared a variety of ways. It can be baked or fried, in patty- or in

ball-form, stuffed with meat or vegetables.


Some Syrian cookbooks dedicate entire chapters to this endlessly

diverse dish. In this recipe, the pomegranate balsamic adds a

richness to the filling and helps to

caramelize the meat and keep it tender.



Serves four


Kibbeh paste

1 cup bulgur

1 lb lean ground beef or lamb, divided

1/4 cup diced red onion

2 tsp Aleppo Spice (1.5 tsp. ground allpsice, 1Tbsp ground

cinnamon, 1tsp ea. ground pepper, ground cardamom,

nutmgeg, 1/2 tsp.ea. ground nutmet, cloves, ginger)

sea salt and cracked black pepper


Kibbeh filling

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

4 Tbsp Lime  infused olive oil

2 Tbsp Pomegranate dark balsamic vinegar


These make a hearty addition to any soup, stew, or braised

meat dish. While they’re usually added raw and cooked

with the other ingredients, you can also add them to a

finished  dish once they’ve been cooked.


Preparing kibbeh with cooked meat rather than raw meat

ensures that you won’t find a meatball with a raw center.


In Damascus, it is common to find these meatballs filled

with ground meat and pomegranate molasses. In

Aleppo, butter and mint is a common filling.


Prepare the Bulgur


1-  Rinse the bulgur under cold water, then place it in a small

bowl, add enough cold water just to cover it, soak for 10 mins., and

then drain.


2-  Place half the ground meat in the bowl of a food processor or

blender with 1 Tbsp of cold water and pulse a few times tobegin to

break it up. Add the drained bulgur, red onion, 1 tsp of the Aleppo

spice, and salt and pepper to taste.


3-  Pulse a few times to blend everything and then process until you

have a very creamy fine paste. The bulgur should be completely

ground and mixed with the meat.


4-  Transfer to a bowl, cover, and place in the fridge for a few hours

(or the freezer for about 25 minutes) to chill and firm up.


Prepare the Meat Filling


1-  In a frying pan over medium heat, place the chopped walnuts and 1

Tbsp of the olive oil. Using a wooden spoon, mix them together until

the walnuts are fully coated with oil. Continue to stir for 2–3 minutes,

until the walnuts are evenly browned.


Remove from the pan and set aside in a medium sized



2-  Without cleaning the frying pan, place the remaining 1/2 lb  of

meat, remaining 1 tsp Aleppo spice, and salt and pepper to taste in

the pan and brown the meat over medium high heat. As the meat

begins to brown, break it up with your wooden spoon so the meat is

very fine.


3-  When almost all the pink is gone, add the balsamic and continue

to sauté until it has been absorbed. Add walnuts, sauté for 1 minute,

then remove from the heat and transfer to the bowl the walnuts were

in (so we’re not using extra dishes!!) and allow to cool enough to



4-  When you’re ready to make the kibbeh, line a baking tray with

parchment paper and remove the kibbeh paste from the fridge or

freezer. Scoop a heaping tablespoon into your hands and form it into

a ball. If the paste is too moist and difficult to handle, put it back in

the fridge for 20 more minutes.


5-  Using your index finger, gently press down in the center of the

kibbeh ball to form a small divot and gently separate the sides, making

a little well. Take about 1 tsp of the meat and walnut filling, place it in

the well, then gently press the edges of the ball together, completely

encasing the filling.


6-  Place each meatball on the prepared baking tray. Place the balls in

the fridge for 30 minutes to rest. At this point, you can also freeze them.

(Freeze them on the baking tray and then transfer them to freezer-safe

containers for up to 3 mos.)


Preheat the oven to 400°F.


7-  Drizzle the stuffed kibbeh with the remaining 3 Tbsp of olive

oil and shake the tray to roll them around slightly so they’re well

coated in oil.


8- Bake for 7 minutes, shake the tray to roll them around a bit again,

and then bake for an  additional 5 mins to ensure the outside is

cooked and the inside is warmed through. (If cooking from frozen,

cook for 12 minutes and then 10minutes.)


9-Remove from the oven and serve immediately. I love to serve them

with tahini garlic yogurt sauce (page 21) and simple  Syrian slaw

(Page 81)


For more of Emily's Syria Recipes click HERE



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