Wednesday, January 20, 2010


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I've been wanting to try a pumpkin kibbeh for a long time, but never got around to it before now. (Read about the Middle Eastern dish kibbeh at this blog post, along with a recipe for a delicious [but high-fat] potato/bulgur/onion kibbeh.) I had a can of pumpkin leftover from the holidays, so I decided to make kibbeh for lunch today.

This version is adapted from a recipe by Canadian/Syrian author and scholar Habeeb Salloum from his excellent books "Arab Cooking on a Saskatchewan Homestead: Recipes and Recollections",  "Classic Vegetarian Cooking From The Middle East And North Africa", and “From the Land of Figs and Olives.

My changes:

I used more onion and I sautéed it first to deepen the flavor.

I used smoky Aleppo Pepper instead of cayenne.

I cut the amount of allspice in half because I find that it can be rather overwhelming.

I used chickpea flour instead of white flour, to add more fiber, protein and general nutrition.

And I found no need to add water.

As for technique:

I squeezed the soaked bulgur dry in my hands and I baked the mixture in two 8-inch square pans instead of one. (I was afraid the center would be too "squishy" if I made a thicker version in one pan, and I think I was right to do this.)

I also added a tart, savory sauce to cut the sweetness of the pumpkin.

The result is a tasty, make-ahead, low-fat, low-points meal (or appetizer, if served in smaller quantities) with lots of protein and fiber.

Printable Recipe

Servings: 6

I prefer this dish served at room temperature.

1 cups fine (#1 grade) bulgur wheat, soaked in 2 cups boiling water
(for info about bulgur wheat)
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups canned pumpkin
(or use very well-drained, thick mashed, cooked pumpkin or dark orange winter squash [see Cooking Tip Below])
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon ground coriander 
1 teaspoon Aleppo Pepper
(*Aleppo Pepper substitute: 4 parts sweet paprika and 1 part ancho chile or cayenne powder)
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 cup chickpea flour (besan)
4 teaspoons olive oil (for greasing)

Tofu/Tahini Mint Sauce
2/3 cup (5 oz.) firm or extra-firm silken tofu
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried mint (or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch sugar
freshly-ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 °F.

Heat the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a nonstick skillet and, when hot, add the chopped onions and salt lightly. Saute briefly, then turn the heat down to medium-low and continue to cook until they are softened and just started to brown.

MICROWAVE OPTION: Place the oil in a microwave safe dish, add the onions, salt lightly and toss to coat with oil. Cover and cook on High for 4 minutes (that's at 1200 watts-- slightly longer for less wattage).

When the bulgur has absorbed most of the water, pour it into a fine strainer over a bowl and then squeeze handfuls of it as dry as you can. Place the squeezed bulgur in a medium bowl and discard the liquid. Mix the salt into the bulgur, distributing evenly.

Place the cooked onion, pumpkin, garlic, coriander, pepper, allspice, cumin, cayenne (or Aleppo Pepper), and chickpea flour in a food processor and whirl until thoroughly blended.

Scoop the processed mixture into the bulgur and mix well.

Grease two 8-inch square pans, each with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Scoop half of the mixture into each pan, and smooth the surface of each until level. Drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil over the top of each and spread it around gently and evenly with your fingertips.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the surface looks dry. (The inside will be moist.)

Place the pans under the broiler for a few minutes (watching carefully!) just to brown and crisp up the surface a bit. Remove the pans to a rack to cool.

Cut the kibbeh into squares or triangles and serve at room temperature with the Tofu/Tahini Mint Sauce.

To make the Tofu/Tahini Mint Sauce,
blend all the ingredients until smooth. Scoop into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until serving time.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving—includes sauce):
275.6 calories; 31% calories from fat; 9.8g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 822.3mg sodium; 525.3mg potassium; 40.0g carbohydrates; 9.5g fiber; 6.1g sugar; 30.5g net carbs; 10.4g protein; 5.5 points.

Cooking Tips
If you use home-cooked pumpkin or squash, bake it until it is tender and then scoop it out of the shell and puree it in a food processor. Drain it for several hours hanging in a cloth (tied with string) suspended by your kitchen tap over the sink, until it’s thick like canned pumpkin.
Measure AFTER draining.


Catofstripes said...

Bryanna, I'm confused, when do the pumpkin mix and the bulgar come together and are they layered or mixed into a single dough?

Anonymous said...

This used to be one of my favorite thing to eat out at a middle-eastern restaurant here in Boston in my vegetarian but pre-vegan days. Never considered making my own especially when I remembered that the yogurt sauce was a key this is great..I'm really excited to try this!

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Catofstripes-- thanks for the heads up! I was messing around for ages with this post-- it wouldn't come out the way i wanted it and i kept re-doing it and must have left out this sentence:
"Scoop the processed mixture into the bulgur and mix well."

There's no layers! Sorry about that! I have added the sentence to the post and the printable recipe. Thanks again!

Kurdistan said...

sounds great love to try it

Shawn, Jamie & Penny said...

This was great! I used a kabocha (these have been cooking up wonderfully sweet and kind of a "just right dry" this season) and home ground soft wheat as I had no chickpea flour on hand. Omitted allspice as it's not a favorite, but basically followed the rest of the recipe. It was wonderful!! Really wonderful! Easy and will be a fun dish to share. The tofu dip was inspired. Yummy! Thanks for a great idea!!

PGYx said...

Can't wait to try this one! I don't know how I missed Habeeb Salloum's version. Mom makes the tasty bulgur-onion-potato version as a vegetarian alternative to the meat-based version she used to make before I went veg (and before my stepdad's heart attack).