Kibbeh is a national Lebanese dish typically made of burghul, onions, ground meat and spices. It can be served in a number of ways, the most common form is stuffed and fried in the shape of mini footballs. I had more than enough fried foods last week so when I spotted a baked version in World Vegan Feast by Bryanna Clark Grogan I simply had to try it. Bryanna's version started with a layer of thinly sliced onions drizzled with olive oil which were covered with a bulgar and mashed potato mixture followed by a layer of lentils and topped off with the bulgar and mashed potato.
The most substantial change I made to the recipe was to use quinoa in place of bulgar as it's something I don't keep in the pantry. I loved that the recipe provided several options with regards to the fresh herbs that could be used and as I had mint and parsley on hand that's what I used. The spices in the dish were minuscule by my usual standards which made me wonder whether this meal was going to be flavoursome enough. I needn't have been worried as it turned out to be really lovely, the spices and mint were quite subtle although it was the onions throughout that really made the dish. Using quinoa may not have been the best substitute as the texture of the kibbeh turned out to be rather crumbly which made it impossible to cut squares neatly. I served the kibbeh with pita bread and leftover baked okra as it need to be used up.
During my research I came across a dip I hadn't heard of before called mutabbel before realising that it's a slightly spicier version of baba ganoush. Both of these eggplant dips are common to Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Kurdistan, Israel and Egypt even though their names and ingredients vary slightly between countries. I've made baba ganoush plenty of times before using different methods to cook the eggplant and this time I decided to initially blacken the eggplant over a gas flame, stuff it with garlic slivers and finish the cooking in the oven. I enjoy the smoky flavour that roasting eggplants over a flame brings although I find it time consuming and fiddly to completely cook the eggplant this way so I was much happier with the method I chose.
1 large eggplant (about 750g)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons tahini
¼ cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon smoked salt
olive oil, parsley and smoked paprika, for serving
Preheat oven to 200C.
Place the eggplant over a gas flame until the skin is mostly blackened (this step can be skipped if you like and the eggplant roasted a longer time. Make incisions in the flesh of the eggplant and insert slices of garlic in the cuts. Place the eggplant on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 30 minutes or until the eggplant is very tender and collapsing.
When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and discard. Roughly chop the eggplant flesh and place into a food processor bowl with the tahini, lemon juice, cumin, cayenne pepper and smoked salt. Process until it has a smooth texture then transfer to a serving bowl. Make a moat in the middle and fill with olive oil. Garnish with chopped parsley and smoked paprika.
Did you know?
Lebanon is a unique country in the Middle East as it's the only country that doesn't have a desert.
Do you want to know where else I've been this month? Click here for the round up.