Baked vegetarian Kibbeh, made with potato and bulgur on an aromatic bed of walnuts, onion and sultanas. This delicious Lebanese kibbeh is a well balanced savory and sweet recipe that has been passed down through the generations of my family.
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What is kibbeh?
Kibbeh is a popular Middle Eastern food. It is one of Lebanon’s national dishes and comes in many forms, using a base ingredient of bulgur;
- Fried - normally made into stuffed footballs (using either meat or vegetables)
- Boiled - small 1cm balls or open shells made in soup
- Baked - such as this recipe either flat in a tray (single layer or multi layered) or stuffed footballs/disc shapes.
- Raw - this is made with fresh raw meat
- Cold - usually either a vegan or a vegetarian kibbeh
This Lebanese kibbeh recipe originates from Tripoli, passed between the women of my mother's family.
In Arabic, this is called Kibbeh Bi Zbeeb (with sultanas) and is a variation of kibbeh bi sanieh (which means in a tray)
😋Why you’ll love this recipe
- Super delicious, the taste is addictive
- Family friendly comforting meal
- Dietary friendly - vegan, dairy free, soy free, corn free, peanut free
- One of the easier versions to make, no need to shape, simply lay into a tray
Bulgur - only use fine bulgur as coarse bulgur will be rough and not bake as well. Bulgur, aka, burghul, is cracked wheat. This is not gluten-free.
Potato - use brown or white potato, which will be peeled and boiled.
Lebanese 7 spice - as the name suggests is a blend of seven different spices. It is very fragrant and important in making this dish.
Making your own blend of Lebanese 7 Spice is best, however, it can be found online (affiliate link).
Thyme & basil leaves- only use fresh versions of these herbs, they are key to the flavor of this recipe.
Onion - brown onion works best. This will be divided into two portions (top layer portion is finely diced and the bottom layer will have the finely sliced portion).
Salt and black pepper to enhance the flavors.
Walnuts - use raw and unsalted chopped walnuts for the filling.
Pomegranate molasses is another key flavoring. I don’t recommend skipping this ingredient. It adds a mild sourness. I like to use this brand (affiliate link)
Olive Oil - is used in place of ghee.
Sultanas - are used in the filling, these can be swapped for raisins or currants if preferred. The difference is the type of grape.
🔪How to make kibbeh
Step One Soak fine bulgur in cold water for at least 30min. The depth of the water should be at least 1cm (⅓”) above the bulgur. Squeeze out excess water using your hands. Set aside.
Step Two Boil peeled potato until cooked. Drain and set aside.
Step Three Prepare and measure out all other ingredients
Step Four In a food processor, add all top layer ingredients and combine until potato is completely smooth. Transfer contents into a large mixing bowl and use your hands to feel if there are any lumps which need to be smoothed out.
Assembly and Baking
Step Five Oil baking tray and add sliced onion, chopped walnuts, sultanas, pomegranate molasses, and olive oil. Use your hands to tenderize (by squishing content together) and combine contents. Once all combined, flatten into the tray. This will form the bottom layer.
Step Six Add top bulgur layer using your hands. Flatten and smooth top layer onto the bottom layer. Use wet hands to help the bulgur not stick to them.
Step Seven Cover top layer with olive oil, pat it down.
Step Eight Bake in a preheated oven of 180C (356F) for about 55 minutes or until browned and not soft. Cut with a sharp knife into desired-sized pieces.
Allow 10-15 minutes cooling before serving.
The dough should be completely smooth and contain no chunks of potato. Using your hands will help you feel the dough to achieve this.
The end result of this vegetarian kibbeh should brown, and when cut, should not be soft. The cut pieces should hold well together and be eaten like a slice. If it is still soft, it will need to be baked for longer.
For a gluten free version. Simply replace the bulgur with quinoa. Always thoroughly wash quinoa before using to rid the bitterness taste
If making a gluten free vegetarian kibbeh with quinoa, add more olive oil to avoid it being dry
Sultanas can be omited, add a little more onion and walnuts
The bottom layer can also be completely omitted and the top layer can be baked on its own as a singular layer. This is called Kibbet Batata.
All spice is a good alternative to Lebanese 7 spice.
As the potato bulgur mix is already cooked, this can be also be served cold (see pic below). Simply flatten it (top layer filling only) into a serving plate and drench in EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) to serve. This is great as part of a mezze and eaten with Lebanese flat bread
We normally eat this vegetarian kibbeh with a salad such as Rocca Salad, Quinoa Tabouli or fattoush salad and a side soup of Lebanese Lentil Soup (Shorbet Adas) one of my top two favourite soups.
Kibbeh is an easy word to sound out and say. It contains two syllables “kib-beh”. Kibbeh is also known as kibbi, kibba, kibbie or kuba - depending on where in the Middle-East you are.
The best bulgur to use in kibbeh is fine bulgur. This will ensure the kibbeh dough is malleable, whether you are using it for making kibbeh bil sanieh (in tray), kibbeh balls, or kibbeh footballs (stuffed kibbeh)
Yes. I have made this previously and it turned out fine. Adjustment to the fats used will need to be factored in to ensure the quinoa kibbeh is not dry.
Another type of kibbeh to try is potato kibbeh, it's a cold version.
You might also be interested in this delicious vegan Lebanese recipe of Bulgur Pilav or these soft Lebanese Spinach Pies. A versatile tahini sauce aka shawarma sauce which can be used with/on many foods.
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Vegetarian Kibbeh (Lebanese Kibbeh)
- 2 cups Fine bulgur
- 1½ litre Water enough to submerge bulgar by 1cm (⅓") and to boil water
- 750 grams Potato peeled and boiled
- 2 tablespoon Lebanese 7 spice heaping. (All spice is a good substitute)
- 375 grams Brown onion peeled and chopped
- ¼ cup Thyme leaves fresh
- ¾ cup Basil leaves fresh
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ⅓ teaspoon Black pepper
- ¼ cup Olive oil
- ¼ cup Pomegranate molasses
- ½ cup Olive Oil extra virgin
- 1 cup Raw unsalted walnuts chopped
- 375 g Brown onion peeled finely sliced
- 1 cup Sultanas raisins or currants are good substitutes
Kibbeh Dough Preparation
- Soak 2 cups of fine bulgur in cold water for at least 30min. The depth of the water should be at least 1cm above the bulgur. Squeeze out excess water using your hands. Set aside.2 cups Fine bulgur, 1½ litre Water
- Boil 750g potato until cooked. Skin off. Drain and set aside.750 grams Potato, 1½ litre Water
- Measure out and cut all ingredients.375 grams Brown onion, 375 g Brown onion
- In a food processor, add all top layer ingredients and combine until potato is completely smooth. Transfer contents into a large mixing bowl and use your hands to feel if there are any lumps which need to be smoothed out.
- Oil baking tray and add sliced onion, walnuts, sultanas, pomegranate molasses and olive oil. Use your hands to tenderise and combine contents. Once all combined, flatten into the tray. This will form the bottom layer.1 cup Raw unsalted walnuts, 1 cup Sultanas, ¼ cup Pomegranate molasses
- Add top bulgur layer using your hands. Flatten and smooth top layer onto bottom layer. Use wet hands to help the bulgur not stick to them.
- Cover top layer with olive oil, pat it down.
- Bake in preheated oven of 180C (356F) for about 55 minutes or until browned and not soft. Cut with a sharp knife into desired sized pieces. Allow 10-15 minutes cooling before serving.
N.B., nutrition info is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. This will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.
Kibbeh is one of my favorite dishes, and there are so many ways to make it. I was happy to find this vegetarian baked potato and bulgar kibbeh recipe because I've never made it before. It was flavorful, easy to pull together (unlike many other Lebanese recipes), and I'm making it again.
I don't have access to the fresh herbs called for in this recipe. What would you suggest I do?
Use Using dried herbs should be fine.