Middle Eastern kibbeh

Middle Eastern kibbeh


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About this recipe: Lebanese-style meatballs are great for a relaxed family supper. They're made with lean minced lamb, bulghur wheat, herbs and spices, then grilled and served in pitta bread pouches with crisp salad.

Maggie Pannell

Serves: 4 

  • 175g bulghur wheat
  • 400ml vegetable stock, hot
  • 400g lean minced lamb
  • 1 red onion, grated
  • 50g pine nuts, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 4 wholemeal pitta breads
  • 1 Little Gem lettuce, shredded
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • ¼ cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 8 radishes, thinly sliced and tossed in 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 170g tub tzatziki (cucumber yoghurt dip)

Prep:25min  ›  Cook:10min  ›  Ready in:35min 

  1. Put the bulghur wheat in a saucepan and pour over the hot stock. Cover and leave to stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, put 8 wooden skewers to soak in cold water; this will prevent them from burning during cooking. Remove the lid from the pan and cook the bulghur wheat over a low heat for 4–5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the excess liquid has evaporated, but the mixture is still moist. Tip onto a tray, spread out and leave to cool.
  2. Tip the cooled bulghur wheat into a bowl. Add the lamb, onion, pine nuts, coriander and dry spices and season to taste. Thoroughly mix together with your hands. If you prefer a smoother-textured kibbeh, transfer the mixture to a food processor and blend for a few seconds. (You may need to do this in 2 batches.)
  3. Preheat the grill to moderate. Divide the lamb mixture into 16 pieces and shape into oval-shaped balls. Thread the kibbeh onto the soaked wooden skewers, putting 2 on each skewer. Arrange side by side on a foil-lined grill pan and grill for 4–5 minutes on each side until well-browned and cooked through. Remove and wrap loosely in the foil to keep warm.
  4. Put the pitta bread on the grill pan and grill for about 30 seconds on each side to warm them; don't let them brown, or they will be too brittle to split open. Run a knife down one long edge of each pitta and gently open out to make a pocket.
  5. Half-fill the pitta bread pockets with the shredded lettuce, carrot, cucumber and radishes. Slide the kibbeh off the skewers and divide among the pitta pockets. Add more salad to taste. Drizzle each one with a spoonful of tzatziki and serve immediately.


Tzatziki is a mixture of yoghurt, grated cucumber, mint and garlic. If you prefer, use reduced-fat hummus mixed with a little low-fat natural yoghurt so that it can be drizzled. Or for a really low-fat dressing, combine 8 tbsp low-fat natural yoghurt with 3 tbsp chopped fresh mint.

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