kibbeh nayeh-finished 2 copy

Every now and then I have a perfect lunch and this is what happened today thanks to my friend Jerome and my brand new meat grinder. Jerome (who is head chef at Mosimann’s) gave me some fabulous lamb (from the top of the leg, which he calls single muscle) for me to make kibbeh nayeh. As for the meat grinder, I wouldn’t have bought one if I hadn’t lost Ramiz, my brilliant Lebanese butcher at Zeina who decided to return to the home country. This said, I am pleased to have it because I now have total control over my kibbeh which is not to say that I would not have left this control with Ramiz if he had not abandoned me and many other faithful clients! Anyhow, I thought I would share with you the way to the ultimate kibbeh nayeh.

kibbeh nayeh-single muscle meat copy

First, you need to make sure you buy very good and very fresh lamb. Jerome’s is Welsh from a small farm and I suggest you source yours carefully, and use the top of the leg as I do. I could have trimmed all the fat but you need a little with the meat and as there is no way I can get tail fat here (Lebanese butchers always add a little to kibbeh), I left a little of the fat on the meat.

kibbeh nayeh-meat sliced copy

Jerome also helped me pick the meat grinder and when I was proudly showing him my new acquisition, he gave me very good advice telling me to cut the meat in long slices so that I can drop these easily into the mincing shaft without having to force the meat through which would cause the machine to overheat and the meat to darken. A definite no-no for kibbeh nayeh! In fact, I suspect some restaurants use food colouring to keep their kibbeh very pink.

kibbeh nayeh-grinding meat 1st go-2 copy

And by watching Ramiz, I learned that for kibbeh (although not for the stuffing if you are making kibbeh bil-saniyeh) you need to mince the meat twice to get it really fine. Here is what it looks like when first ground.

kibbeh nayeh-grinding meat 2nd go-2 copy

And what it is like the second time round.

kibbeh nayeh-grated onion copy

Then you need to add a little grated onion. My mother also adds a little fresh basil but I prefer to use it as garnish and/or accompaniment.

kibbeh nayeh-burghul copy

The ratio of burghul changes for kibbeh nayeh and you need to use less than for cooked kibbeh. I only use dark burghul and of course fine grade. I stopped taking pictures at this stage as they wouldn’t have looked so nice unless I had beautiful hands like my mother’s in them but she is in far away Lebanon!

meat grinder copy

And here is a shot of my beautiful meat grinder which is now officially my favourite kitchen gadget. I will use it again soon to make different versions of kibbeh to share with you. Until then, here is my mother’s recipe. One word of advice: serve kibbeh nayeh as soon as it is ready otherwise it will change colour and become greyish. Also, the burghul will fluff up making the kibbeh less moist although you can easily remedy that by kneading it again with a little iced water. But you can’t change the colour unless you use artificial means which I don’t recommend!

Kibbeh Nayeh

Serves 4 – 6

500 g (1 lb 1 oz) lamb from the top of the leg, boned, skinned and defatted and put through the fine mincer twice

1 small onion, peeled and grated

a handful of fresh basil or mint leaves, very finely chopped (optional)

120 g (4 oz) fine burghul, rinsed under cold water and drained

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon 7-spice mixture (if not available, replace with allspice)

½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper

fine sea salt to taste

pine nuts for garnish, soaked in cold water for an hour or so

Prepare a bowl of lightly salted iced water and have it at hand.

Put the minced meat in a mixing bowl. Add the grated onion and herbs if you are using them and burghul. Season with the cinnamon, allspice, 7-spice mixture and pepper. Add salt to taste and mix with your hand until well blended. moistening the kibbeh every now and then with a little iced water. Knead the kibbeh until the mixture is soft without being too wet

Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Transfer the meat to an oval or round serving dish and flatten it into a shallow cake. Use your index finger or the tip of a small spoon to make little curved dips in a straight line down the middle and again either side of it. Drizzle a little olive oil into the dips, scatter a few pine nuts over the surface and serve immediately with trimmed spring onions and sprigs of fresh mint. As you can see from the top picture, I served mine (to myself!) slightly differently, making small round cakes with a dip in the middle for the olive oil and garnishing with a few basil leaves.

©Anissa Helou from Lebanese Cuisine

There is 17 comments on this post

  • I’m inspired. Thanks for sharing. The twice grinding reminds me of my grandfather and when he taught me how to make kibbeh bil-saniyeh it was one of the things he stressed but not for the filling. My grandmother only made kibbeh nayeh once when I was around (found out later my grandparents made it more frequently but never told anyone!). But to this day it remains one my most cherished food memories. I’ll need to make some in their memory and maybe not tell anyone.

  • post a pic on facebook when you do 🙂

  • In some places Europe, it is very difficult to find some minced meat of lamb at the butchers. Yet, to realize certain dishes being inspired by the cooking of the Middle East without minced meat of lamb turns out impossible, given the very specific and delicious taste that gives this meat. I think in particular of the kefta, Kebab, Shawarma, mouloukhia (The middle East version), Mahshi (Zucchini, Eggplant, stuffed Vine leaves) etc. The ideal, of course, it is to have a meat grinder as you have just made it, Anissa.
    I keep a very good souvenir of your entry on kibbeh bil-saniyeh.

  • Hello Anissa, is it possible to escute this recipe with beef ? I’ve never been a fan of lamb, even though I still have kibbeh nayyeh at every chance I get, but I never realized it was made with lamb ! In fact I’m pretty sure my father makes it with beef. Pls let me know what you think (love the meat grinder) 🙂

  • of course you can use beef or veal even like some people do. i like lamb and never use anything else. and v glad you like the meat grinder 🙂

  • And you forgot one thing. if you are Christian you will make the sign of the cross in the meat before it is served

  • ha, i forgot about this. i have to ask my mother if she did it 🙂

  • What is cost of grinder? Do you know if It can be purchased online?

  • about £100 and it depends on where you live. if in UK, then you can order it from nisbetts.com 🙂

  • Every time I try to make this dish the burghul is hard and crunchy even after rinsing and even soaking it thoroughly, using the fine mix of bulghul what am I doing wrong

  • you are probably using the wrong burghul. try brands like gardenia, second house or other lebanese ones and use the fine 🙂

  • My mother is from Chile. Her father and his brothers all emigrated from Syria to Chile about 1915. I grew up in the US. My mother made a similar dish called, in Spanish, ‘copi’, pronounced CAW-pee. When we traveled to Chile we found each branch of the family makes this dish, all strikingly similar. Beef, not lamb, bulgar #1, minced parsley, salt, pepper, and ice water. Nothing else. It was only when I started researching the recipe to make it myself did I realize it was of middle eastern, not Chilean, origin. I made it tonight for my mother and brother and they pronounced it ‘just like mom’s’. These food traditions are so important. Your recipe and tips were very helpful Anissa, thank you so much.

  • burghul needs to soak in water the night before in the fridge. Or at least soak it in boiling water for an hour minimum before using it. Then squeeze out all excess water from the burghul. Then it is ready to place in the mixture of minced lamb or beef for preparation

  • not if you are using fine burghul, which is the grade you should be using for kibbeh, and tabbouleh for that matter 🙂

  • I love kibbeh neyyeh but in Chapel Hill NC I cannot find any proper meat. I was in NYC last week and had Kibbeh neyyeh at a great restaurant named Ilili, in Manhattan and loved the creamy taste. I would love to make it at home with your meat grinder (where can I find something really good on the Internet I wonder?) my food processor always comes out short, even if I use ice cubes). Grass fed beef, very expensive cuts of meat are not succeeding to come to par… When I lived in CA (25 yrs), we had ready kibbeh meat of one lb in plastic pouches, ready. They tasted great but always had a red dye … After having that wonderful raw steak tartar as foreigners call it, I want to try to get a good result…as I crave badly for a good flavorful home made kibbeh neyyeh. (BTW, at the NYC restaurant next to us were some French couples who were also having the kibbeh neyyeh and enjoying it. ) thx so much!

  • A friend of mine went to Jordan and purchased a kibbeh
    Machine. Does anybody know where you can buy this machine or what company makes it . It is small and for the home kitchen . If anybody knows of anything please let me know . daviddavid2266@Ymail.com
    Thanks Brian

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