Kibbe, kibbeh, kibbi, kubbeh, or kebbeh is a very famous Levantine dish (if you suffer reading these, I suffer with trying to find the right spelling of these Arabic words). Kubbeh is served as an appetizer, main dish, party food, or even the perfect portable lunch. Kubbeh comes in many shapes, forms, and types. Aleppo (in Syria) is famous for having more than 17 types of it! These include kubbeh prepared with sumac, yogurt, quince, lemon juice, pomegranate sauce, cherry sauce, and other varieties, such as the disk kubbeh and raw kubbeh.
The recipe I am sharing today is for one of the two most famous types of kubbeh, baked kubbeh or kubbeh bel saineh. The other is the fried kubbeh (my favorite type).
Baked kubbeh makes for an elegant dish to serve to friends and family alike. You can serve it with a salad as a main dish or you can make it into smaller portions and serve it as an appetizer. The combination of spices, meat, and bulgur is one you should definitely try if you have not already.
Heat the olive oil in a pan or pot over medium heat and sauté the onion until soft, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the ground meat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.
As it browns, season with salt to taste, the spices, and the pomegranate molasses and pine nuts, if using. When the meat has browned all over and most of its water has been cooked off, about 6-8 minutes, remove from heat and let cool.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Soak the bulgur wheat in cold water for 1 hour (but no longer). Drain the water, place the bulgur into a sieve, and leave it to drain for another 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the meat, onion, egg, breadcrumbs, allspice, sumac, coriander, cardamom, cumin, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth. Then, add the bulgur gradually to the food processor and pulse until the whole amount is incorporated. Make sure to scrape down the edges repeatedly.
Remove the mixture from the food processor and place it on your work surface. Knead the meat and bulgur mixture until it is smooth and homogenous.
Grease a 10-inch round baking dish. Fill a bowl with water and wet your hands. Take ½ of the meat and bulgur mixture and spread it in the base of the baking dish. Spread the stuffing over the base leaving a ½-inch margin around the edge.
Spread the other ½ of the meat and bulgur mix on a piece of parchment paper until it is slightly larger than the pan. Carefully use the parchment paper to transfer the top onto the baking dish and cut off the excess.
With your wet hands smooth the top and press from the center to the edges to expel any air trapped between the layers. Cut in the desired pattern using a wet knife. Pour the olive oil on top of the kubbeh.
Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven, preheat the broiler, and place under the broiler until the top is golden brown, about 5-10 minutes.