Sunday, August 12, 2007
MORE ADVENTURES IN MIDDLE EASTERN COOKING: POTATO KIBBI/KIBBEH
Potato Kibbi hot out of the oven (a corner missing because I just had to try it!)
I had to make some Arabic finger food for a fundraising event I organized last week and I didn't want to just make the usual things. I have been wanting to try this kibbeh/kibbi recipe for a long time, so I made two pans of it, and it was so superior to any other vegetarian kibbeh I have ever tried. We loved it, and everything I brought sold out, even though most people had no idea what it was! It's the large amount of onions, cooked in the olive oil, that makes it so tasty and moist, I'm positive!
The Arabic word kubbeh means a ball. The name has been widely borrowed, with various spelling variations: in English, the spellings kibbe and kibbeh are both common; also kubbah and kibbi. In Brazil, it is called quibe or kibe; elsewhere in Latin America, kipe or quipe. In Turkey, it is called içli köfte. In Armenian, it is called kufteh.
PRONUNCIATION: There is a little hesitation between the two b’s, and the second syllable is pronounced with a short e. It should look like this: kib’beh.
Kibbeh is defined as a dish of minced meat with bulgur and spices with many variants, both raw and cooked. However, there are several popular vegetarian versions (Lenten versions for Christians, usually) made with potato, pumpkin, sweet potato, etc, with plenty of onions for flavor. Many chefs are experimenting with stuffed vegetarian kibbi, utilizing greens, pomegranate molasses, nuts, herbs., etc.
It is a popular dish in the Levant, sometimes considered the national dish of Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and Iraq. It is also a common food in North Africa, Turkey, the Arabian Peninsula, and parts of the Caucasus, such as Armenia and Georgia. Like hummus, everyone’s mom does it best.
In its most common form, it consists of minced la*b mixed with bulgur and spices, stuffed inside a bulgur crust. The shape, size and ingredients vary between different types of kibbeh and between the recipes traditional in different areas. Recipes can include pine nuts, and green herbs, among other things. It can be baked, fried, boiled, stuffed, or served raw. The mix of spices changes as does the composition of the crust. Kubbat Halab is an Iraqi version made with a rice crust, though apparently not originating in the Syrian city of Halab (Aleppo) as its name suggests. Kubbat Mosul is another Iraqi version originally from Mosul where a bulgur crust is used, but the shape is flat and round, like a disc. Finally, Kubbat Shorwa is an Assyrian-Iraqi version where kibbeh is mixed in a stew, usually cooked with tomato sauce and spices.
It is traditionally served with a tahina dip which is made with sesame seed paste.
Besides being found in the Middle East and in Middle Eastern restaurants world-wide, it has also become a popular dish in South America, where it was introduced by Lebanese and Palestinian immigrants.
POTATO KIBBI (KIBBIT BATATA BIS-SAYNIYYI)
This is from a recipe in the excellent book "Lebanese Cuisine" by Madelain Farah.
I have tried other potato kibbi recipes, but this one is absolutely the best! Good hot or at room temperature, plain, or with Taheena Sauce, if you must.
1 1/2 cups bulgur wheat (#2 or medium-fine)
2 tsp salt
1 Tbs chopped fresh basil (or 1 tsp. dried) (NOTE: mint or cilantro or oregano can also be used)
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
1 small onion, grated
4 medium (4 oz. each) potatoes (I used Yukon Gold), cooked tender, then peeled and mashed (NOTE: To peel the hot cooked potatoes, hold under running cold water and the skin will peel off easily.)
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2/3 cup oil (I used olive oil), divided
Rinse bulgur in cold water, squeeze, sprinkle with salt and let stand for 20 minutes.
Work seasonings with grated onion and add the mashed potatoes, mixing well. Add the bulgur and knead into soft dough. Moisten hands in cold water while kneading to prevent sticking. ( If mixture doesn't stick together, add 1/4 cup of flour-- but I didn't have to add any.)
Place the sliced onions in the bottom of a 9" square baking pan (spray the sides with oil). Cover with 1/3 cup of the oil.
Place the potato mixture evenly on top of the onions, smooth down, and cut into diamond shapes about 1/2" deep. Pour the remaining oil on top and bake at 400° until golden brown - about 50-60 minutes.
Let cool until you can handle it and cut the diamond shapes all the way down.
Use above recipe omitting oil and sliced onions. Form the mixture into patties and fry in 1/2" of oil or place on a well-oiled pan and bake.
Nutrition (per serving): 315.8 calories; 51% calories from fat; 18.5g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 478.5mg sodium; 381.5mg potassium; 35.4g carbohydrates; 6.4g fiber; 2.3g sugar; 29.0g net carbs; 4.7g protein; 7.1 points.