It is important to use a good-quality burghal when making kibbeh. Use an unbleached fine grain and soak it in cold water until it is fully reconstituted so it won’t absorb the lamb juices and dry out the lamb. Lamb leg with all the fat and sinew removed is the best choice for kibbeh as it minces well. You’ll need a mincer to make this dish, and I totally recommend buying one to have on hand. You never know what’s in the minced meat you buy from supermarkets and butchers!
MAKES about 15
PREPARATION 30 MIN
COOKING 1 hr 20 MIN
SKILL LEVEL MID
1½ tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, finely diced
200g lamb leg, minced
30g pine nuts, toasted
2 tsp ras el hanout (see below)
flaked sea salt
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
300g fine burghal
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp table salt
360g lamb leg, all fat and sinew removed, cut into strips
Ras el hanout
1 tbsp allspice berries
2 tbsp raw sugar
1 tbsp flaked sea salt
2 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp fennel seeds
7 cardamom pods
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1½ tsp ground cloves
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Heat the olive oil in a small heavy-based saucepan over a low heat, add the onion and cook for 15 minutes or until caramelised “” you want it to be dark golden brown with a sweet flavour.
Add the minced lamb and cook for about 15 minutes or until the juices start to dry up, breaking up the mince with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Stir in the raisins and pine nuts and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Season with ras el hanout and salt to taste, then place in the refrigerator until cold.
To make the ras el hanout, place all the ingredients in a dry frying pan and toast over medium heat for about 15 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind to a fine powder. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. Makes 125g.
To make the shell, soak the burghal in cold water for 30 minutes until it is soft. Drain and place in the centre of a clean, dry tea towel. Hold over the sink and wring out as much water as you can.
Tip the burghal into a bowl and stir in the cumin, cinnamon, salt and lamb strips. Mince all the ingredients together in a fine-grade mincer (depending on your mincer, you may have to do this twice).
To make the kibbeh, take an egg-sized amount of the shell mixture and form into a ball. Poke a hole in the ball with your finger, making a space for the filling.
Add a teaspoon of filling and pinch the top to seal the ball. You can then shape it into a point or football shape, or just leave it as a ball. Repeat with the remaining shell and filling mixtures.
Heat the oil in a deep heavy-based frying pan or deep-fryer to 180°C (a cube of bread dropped into the oil will brown in 15 seconds). Add the kibbeh in batches and cook for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towel and serve immediately.
Recipe from Maha by Shane Delia, with photographs by Sharyn Cairns. Published by Penguin.