With so many different types of kibbeh, I can say that this Pan Baked Kibbeh, called kibbeh bil sanieh or sini kofteh, is my favorite. Each country has it's own variation using varying amounts of bulgur, meat, and spices. The traditional Armenian way of making this dish includes adding red pepper paste and ground Aleppo pepper to the kibbeh dough. Also, Armenians add black pepper, all spice, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the filling. However, in the Middle East, baharat is added to the filling. Middle Easterners also do not kneed red pepper paste into the dough. Being both Armenian and Jordanian, my recipe is a combination of the two with a few twists.
The most difficult part of this dish is the kibbeh dough, only because the meat might be difficult to find. If you live in a city where there are plenty of Armenians, you are in luck. If you visit any Armenian market and you can buy chikoufteh or kibbeh nayeh meat already prepared. If you don’t, you will need to ask your butcher to grind your trimmed beef top round meat multiple times to achieve a similar texture, or grind it at home the same way. It's very important to get the right texture of the meat. It should not be chunky; it should be smooth like a paste.
Margarine or butter (for the pan)
1 1/2 cups (about 9 ounces) fine bulgur #1
1 medium onion, finely ground
1 pound chikoufteh meat or very finely ground beef (85 or 90 percent lean)
1 1/2 tablespoons hot red pepper paste
1/2 teaspoon Seven Baharat
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
4 ounces olive oil
4 ounces water
Optional: 1/4 cup pine nuts
In a large skillet, add olive oil and heat on medium high heat.
Add ground beef and onion and cook, stirring and breaking up clumps, for 6 minutes or until browned.
Add Baharat, salt, red pepper, and black pepper and stir well.
If using pine nuts, add them to meat and stir well. If not, remove from heat and begin making kibbeh dough.
Fill a small bowl with some very cold water with ice to use to wet your hands as needed during the kneeding and shaping process.
In a large mixing bowl or tray, place the bulgur, onion, pepper paste, red pepper, salt, cumin, and seven baharat.
Add 1/2 cup of ice cold water and kneed thoroughly with your hands for about 5 minutes or till bulgur becomes like dough and sticks together. If you need to add extra water to get that consistency, don't be afraid.
Once the bulgur begins to feel soft and doughy, add the meat. Continue to kneed, adding 1/4 cup of cold water at a time till meat and bulgur are completely incorporated and no longer stick to your hands.
Assemble the Kibbeh
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Generously smear the bottom and sides of a 9x13" rectangle or 14" round tray with margarine or butter.
Divide the kibbeh dough into two equal parts. Keep your bowl of ice and water by your side, you are going to need it.
With dampened hands, press first batch of kibbeh dough onto the bottom of the tray. Make sure you make the dough a uniform thickness. Use circular motions with your wet hands to smooth the dough. I like doing this process with a handful of the dough mixture at a time, flattening in my hand then putting in tray and patching till the bottom of the tray is covered.
Scatter the filling evenly on top of this first layer of dough.
For the top layer of dough, take one handful of dough at a time, flatten in your hand and add on top of filling. Continue this process until all dough is used, patching where needed. Use a wet hand and in a circular motion again smooth the dough, closing the cracks of the patching.
Cut the Kibbeh into squares, triangles, or whatever shape you like if you want to be creative using a thin knife dipped in cold water.
Add olive oil and water evenly on top and place in oven for about 40 minutes or until a deep golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
NOTE: This Pan Baked Kibbeh can be served hot or at room temperature with lemon juice, a cabbage salad, a minted yogurt with cucumber dip, or as is. If you want to flip the kibbeh onto a different platter for a prettier presentation, let kibbeh sit for 20 minutes before you do so, run a knife along the edges to make sure it is released from the pan, then flip.
If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #EATDRINKPLAYLA. I'd love to see how yours turned out!