Kibbe: the maestro’s family recipe


This is an unedited copy of my family’s recipe for kibbe. It was transcribed my great aunt’s handwritten recipe. Kibbe is also spelled and pronounced kibbeh, kibbe, kebbah, kubbeh, kubbah, kubbi depending on region.

Bourgle is also spelt burghul and is also used in tabouli.

In my family we have always baked the kibbe but as you can see from the recipe it can also be grilled or fried. It can also be eaten raw and that version is called kibbe nayeh.

I remember when I was a small child sitting on my grandmother’s kitchen bench watchingas she minced lamb cut up from a leg of mutton and chops with an old style hand mincer.

She would give us try of the raw mixture and tell us it was kibbe nayeh.

I have been eating this version of kibbe all my life and my dad who is now 81 still cooks it for me every time I visit him in our home town of Temora. In fact the photo for this article features my dad’s kibbe.

I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and all our friends do.


the maestro


Koubi, which is a Lebanese and Syrian national dish, is in essentials a mixture of meat, crushed wheat or bourgle (also spelt burghul,), and ‘other Ingredients’:

MEAT: 1 kilogram minced lean lamb or if unavailable premium minced beef, with as little fat as possible.ð If mincing the meat yourself, get lamb by preference and cut off all the fat.

BOURGLE: 1 cup (heaped), fine if possible.ð Soak in two cups of water for a few hours before you start or if you remember overnight.ð (Some Lebanese put more bourgle than this: it varies between families.)

OTHER INGREDIENTS: in this recipe include the following:
3 medium Onions
1/3 Capiscum (optional)
1 red pepper or two ‘bird’s eyes’ chilli’s (some members of the family put in more than this: vary to taste)
A few shallots
Mint, a small handful
‘Markouch’, a Lebanese herb like Marjorem, if available
Some basil if you like
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon of salt or salt to taste.ð (Half and half Lite Salt seems to work out OK also.ð Sea salt is probably best of all.)
Spice, pepper and salt are all to taste, and more may be added later during the mixing stage.ð Just remember: once it’s in you can’t take it out.
Vitemise all these ‘other ingredients’ together in a blender.

Pour vitemised ‘other ingredients’ over the meat.ð Squeeze all the water out of the bourgle a hand at a time and put the squeezed bourgle into the mixture. ðMix together with one or two hands for ten minutes, kneading as if with bread.ð Taste for salt etc. and add if necessary.

Koubi can be baked, grilled or fried.ð It can even be eaten raw like Filet Americain with a little olive oil on it, some bread (lebanese or ordinary) and a salad.ð Provided the mince was fresh, it also freezes well and can be put away uncooked for cooking when needed.ð Once cooked it will keep in the ordinary fridge for about a week.