Kebbe / Kibbeh (Lebanese Meatballs) with Quinoa

So the other night I was laying in bed, dreaming of some Middle Eastern food. The rich, exotic flavours, the delicate bite filled with a splendid mix of seasonings and spices, the freshness of a beautiful crisp Middle Eastern salad.

So the next day I decided to have a go at Kebbe (or Kibbeh). I found a lovely blog written by Cherine, aka ‘Chicho’, a Lebanese woman living in Paris. I decided to use her Kebbe recipe as the basis for my fructose friendly version – and to my surprise they were splendid! Her recipe can be found here.

Note: You will need a food processor for this one!

For the outer shell of the kebbe:

  • 1 to 1½ lb (500 to 700g) ground beef
  • 1½ cups Quinoa
  • Small bunch of the green part of spring onion, rinsed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  •  1/4 tsp cinnamon

Rinse the quinoa well under cold water and drain. It’s handy to use a fine mesh sieve for rinsing. Put the rinsed quinoa into a saucepan and add 3 cups cold water. Cover and bring to a boil. As soon as it starts to boil, turn the heat down to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. The quinoa goes a bit transparent when it’s cooked, except for a little spiral sprout.  Drain with a sieve to remove moisture as much as possible.

Ok, time to get out the trusty food processor.  Place the spring onion in the food processor and process until it cannot get any finer. Add minced meat in batches. Remove and place aside. Mix meat mixture with quinoa, salt and spices just with a wooden or metal spoon. Place small batches in food processor and process well in batches into a firm paste. (Note: I actually found after each batch, I had to remove it and set aside in a bowl, then add the next batch. I was finding it otherwise was not processing the entire lot well enough, but suit yourself). Knead mixture with wet hands into a smooth paste. Put in refrigerator for 30 minutes covered with a wet towel.

This is what the Kebbe paste should look like once the quinoa and meat have been processed together

Placing a wet tea towel over the kebbe paste, ready for the fridge

For the filling:

  • 250g minced beef
  • couple of sprigs of green part of spring onion, chopped finely
  • 1-2 small stems celery, chopped into very small pieces
  • ½ cube of massel vegetable stock cube
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsps salt
  • pepper
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • large handful of fried pine nuts
  • 1½ tbsp sumac

Fry chopped spring onion and celery with a dash of salt in oil until soft. Add half cube of vegie stock cube, mash it up and mix. Add minced meat, salt and spices and fry until cooked. Mix in pine nuts. Put filling aside.

Retrieve the paste from the fridge. (Tip: have a cup of warm water handy to dip your fingers into- this makes the moulding process easier). Wet fingers in the warm water and take small egg sized portions of the paste and roll between the palms of your hands until smooth. Make a hole in the middle with your forefinger. Work finger round in the hole until you have a shell of even thickness.

Note: after I had made these, I found a great video demonstrating the proper way to make this hole- please see this video here, you can slide it until the time of 10:09, this is where she demonstrates how to make the hole for the Kebbe. As she mentions, it is a skill and each time you do it, you get a little better at it.

Fill hole with filling mixture and close opening (approx 1 heaped tsp of filling in each ball). Seal well and shape into football shape with two pointed sides. If any breaks appear in shell, close with wet fingers.

Stuffing the Kebbe. You are actually meant to create the hole from the small ‘pointy’ end of the ‘football shape’, not lengthways as I have done! But just so you can see what it looks like when it comes together….

Bake in oven at 180ºC for 20 mn or shallow fry in a pan of olive oil until brown and evenly cooked (you will need to rotate with the latter method).

Shallow frying the Kebbe

The kebbe were delicious and would go well with a beautiful salad or Middle Eastern dip!

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One comment

  1. This looks so yummy

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