Rediscovering Palestinian Cuisine

Kubbeh (Lamb & Bulgur Wheat Meatballs)

Kubbeh (Lamb & Bulgur Wheat Meatballs)

Crunchy, savory kubbeh looks simple but is in fact an intricate dish, usually served as part of mezza, or starters before a meal. Because it is labor intensive, it is typically prepared for special occasions. Kubbeh comes from the Arabic word for “round” or oval, and the word may have its origins in the cupola domes which are prominent features of Middle Eastern architecture.

For the Raw Kubbeh:
2 lbs. lean ground lamb or lean beef (or mixture of both)
2 large onions
3 cups cracked wheat or burghul, fine grind
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Ice cubes

Wash the cracked wheat and  let it soak in water for 2-3 hours–overnight is even better.  Drain the water by cupping your hands and squeezing out all moisture.  You can use cheesecloth to squeeze moisture out.  Next, use an electric grinder or food processor to pulverize the meat and onions together.  Quarter the onions and put in the food processor until they are ground well.  Next, add your ground meat to onions in processor until mixture is elastic and sticky.  Add a few ice cubes to mixture and process again until mixture has right consistency.  The mixture holds together best when very cold and moist.  Now put the mixture into a large bowl and add spices.  Mix well and drizzle with olive oil.  Cover the raw mixture with plastic wrap and place in fridge.  While this mixture is getting cold in fridge, start preparing the kubbeh stuffing.

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Kubbeh Stuffing:
1- 1/2lbs ground lamb meat
2 large onions (finely chopped)
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 tbsp butter or
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Brown pine nuts in butter until light brown.  Set aside.  Next saute meat with butter used in browning pine nuts.  To this, add chopped onions.  When meat is cooked and onions translucent add seasonings, pine nuts, and lemon juice to mixture.  Turn off heat and set aside.  Now you are ready to assemble the raw kubbeh and cooked kubbeh stuffing to make the kubbeh balls to fry or bake.

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Fried Kubbeh:

Raw Kubbeh
Kubbeh Stuffing
Bowl of water with ice cubes
Oil for Frying

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Cut raw cold kubbeh into walnut-sized balls.   The mixture should be cold and sticky.  Dip your hands in bowl of ice water (this helps to keep meat from sticking to hands) and flatten the ball in your palm or take the ball and with index finger make a hole in center, hollowing out the center for the filling.  Next stuff it with 2 tsp. of stuffing and gently smooth over the open end to close it.  Form the ball into a football shape.  Place on greased tray.  Do this until you have used up the two mixtures.  Fry in hot oil at least 2 inches deep for 5 minutes until golden brown on all sides.  Place on tray with paper towels to absorb excess oil.   If you don’t have time to finish making everything you can put it in the fridge and continue the next day.  Make sure everything stays cold.  If you don’t want to fry the balls immediately you can freeze the kubbeh balls on a tray.  Once frozen on the tray, gently take them off and store them flat in a double freezer bag.  When ready to fry or bake leave them out until they thaw.  Reshape if necessary then fry or bake.

To bake the balls:  Arrange the Kubbeh balls in a greased baking tray.  Bake in 350 degree oven 15 minutes on each side. Turn as needed until golden brown.

 

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