BAKED KIBBEH - KIBBEH BI-SAYNIYEH - Julie Le Clerc

Recipe ©copyright Julie Le Clerc, from Taking Tea in the Medina cookbook (Penguin Books NZ)

Serves 6

The word kibbeh comes from the verb ‘to form into a ball’. The basic ingredients for kibbeh are burghul and the freshest tender pink lamb. These two simple components are pounded together until they take on a smooth velvety texture. Authentically performed by hand, this is a time-consuming operation. Some people shorten the process by using a food processor, others would say this is a betrayal. The choice, however, is yours.
Balls of the mixture can be shaped into different forms, such as patties, ovals or domes. Kibbeh are sometimes filled, and sometimes cooked with a sauce, such as kibbeh cooked in yoghurt. Kibbeh may be served raw (kibbeh naiyeh) or cooked. This slab of kibbeh baked in a tray is a homely and very comforting rendition of this, the national dish of Lebanon.

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup fine burghul
500g fresh lean boneless lamb from the leg, trimmed of skin and fat
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons cold water
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts
3 tablespoons olive oil

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 175°C. Lightly oil a 20cm square baking dish or a 22cm round baking dish. Place burghul in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soften for 5 minutes, then drain well. Rinse with cold water to cool burghul, then squeeze out as much water as possible.
Finely dice the lamb, then mince in a food processor. Add burghul, onion, water and spices to lamb in the food processor and process in short bursts until doughy.
Pat meat mixture into prepared pan. Cut the mix into 5cm square or diamond shapes and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until firm and lightly browned. Serve kibbeh from the pan or invert onto a serving platter. Sliced, it can be eaten hot or cold.
Alternatively, make a simplified version of kibbeh. With damp hands, mould the mixture into oval or round patties and pan-fry to brown on both sides.

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