Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Thousand Arabian Nights: Pom-glazed Kibbeh

Dreams of a thousand Arabian nights come to mind whenever I crave kibbeh.

A must in the mideastern kitchen, it's my dad's favourite.
His grandmother used to make it.
I'll make it for him just to hear a story about his childhood.

Kibbeh is most commonly found in the form of  li'l bulghur footballs stuffed with seasoned ground meat and toasty pine nuts.
Exotic foods are often difficult to make.
Shaping the dumplings is an artform that requires skill and experience.
But, busy weeknights call for this equally delicious, easy version cooked in a pan.

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 lb ground meat
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
Bulghur Mixture:
  • 1 cup fine bulghur (#4)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 lb ground meat
  • 2 tsp Arabic 7 spice*
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Pom Glaze:
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
Start by making the glaze. Heat the pomegranate molasses and brown sugar
on medium-low heat until a thick syrup forms.

In a bowl, cover the bulghur with water and let it soak for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts and set them aside to cool.
Fry the onions, season with salt & pepper, add the garlic.
Add the ground meat and brown.
Set aside to cool.

Next, make the bulghur mixture. Drain the bulghur. In a food processor, blend the bulghur, meat and spices to a smooth paste.

Pour a bit of olive oil into the pan and smooth half of the bulghur mixture. Sprinkle the meat/pine nut mixture over and press lightly. Cover the the remaining bulghur mixture.
Using a knife, make a criss-cross pattern on top.
Cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes.
Finish in the oven at 350*F for another 30 minutes.

Finish with pomegranate glaze and a sprinkling of  fresh pomegranate nuggets.
Serve with potatoes and a crisp salad.
Yogurt is a lovely compliment. I recommend Byblos brand, which is also found in most middle eastern grocers.

This kibbeh is an impressive dish that's simple to make.
But your guests don't have to know that.

*The Arabic people are geniuses at scenting beef or lamb with fragrant cinnamon and garlic.
Their 7-spice mix attests to that and is readily available at most middle eastern stores.
No worries if you can't find it.
Make your own!

 Arabic 7-Spice:

1. Freshly ground black pepper
2. Cinnamon
3. Nutmeg
4. Cloves
5. Paprika
6. Cumin
7. Cardamom

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