Lamb Kibbeh

Lamb Kibbeh

As Claire Thomson, author of The Art of the Pantry and this recipe, wrote in its introduction, "I’ve eaten these in northern Cyprus many times. In a cobbled market square, women stand under umbrellas in broiling summer heat, shaping the kibbeh and frying them in batches. Piled high and eaten just warm, these crisp, torpedo-shaped shells are filled with a spiced, fragrant filling. Use fine bulgur to form the dough."



  1. First put the bulgur into a bowl and cover with plenty of boiling water. When the bulgur is soft, about 7 minutes, drain well, squeezing out as much water as possible.
  2. To make the stuffing, fry the chopped onion in 1 tablespoon of oil for 8–10 minutes, until completely soft. Add the lamb, spices, pine nuts and salt and cook for 5–10 minutes, until the meat is cooked through. Remove from the heat and set aside, checking the seasoning.
  3. To make the kibbeh dough, use a food processor. Blend the softened bulgur with the raw mince, spices, pepper and salt to form a dough-like consistency. Remove and knead vigorously in a bowl or on a worktop. Place the kibbeh dough in the refrigerator, covered, for 30 minutes to firm up.
  4. Use wet hands to form kibble balls the size of a golf ball—roll it well in the palm of your hand to give a smooth surface. Using your thumb, make a hole in the ball to create a deep and even pocket in the kibbeh casing.
  5. Fill the pocket with about 2 teaspoons of cooked lamb stuffing, closing it securely by squeezing the ends together. The kibbeh should be an oval shape with pointed ends. Set the kibbeh on a plate and continue the process until you have used all the dough and filling.
  6. In a non-stick frying pan over a moderate heat, add enough cooking oil to be at least 1 1/4 inches deep. When the oil is hot, fry the kibbeh in batches until crisp and golden brown all over—about 6–8 minutes. You can deep-fry the kibbeh if you prefer.
  7. Serve hot or even just warm at room temperature, with the tahini sauce and lemon wedges. Chili sauce is good too.

Tahini Sauce

1/2 a clove of garlic, crushed to a smooth paste with a pinch of salt
1 3/4 oz. / 1/4 cup tahini
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Combine the garlic, tahini and oil in a small bowl.
  2. Add the lemon juice, then whisk in 3 1/2 fl oz. / 1/3 cup of water a spoonful at a time, stirring briskly between additions to make a smooth sauce. The consistency should be like heavy cream.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


This recipe is from The Art of the Pantry by Claire Thomson, published by Quadrille, October 2017, $29.99 hardcover and published here with permission.  Photograph by Mike Lusmore.



LambMiddle-EasternPantry Cooking


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