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Open Kibbeh Pie

Open Kibbeh Pie

I got the Jerusalem cookbook several months ago while wandering around my neighborhood bookstore, Omnivore. I picked it up, not because I had read a feature on the two chefs in Food & Wine magazine, but because the book’s cover was pretty. It has a silky gloss (similar to that of Barbara Kingsolver’s books 15 years ago) that’s uncommon for a cookbook and it was padded. Seriously, pick it up. Touch it!

Though I try not to buy cookbooks (too heavy to move and the internet usually has what I’m looking for), there were so many recipes I wanted to try! Of course, it has taken me several months to finally make something, but the purchase was definitely worth it and you’ll likely see more recipes soon.

This open kibbeh was probably the main reason I picked up Jerusalem. Almost 10 years ago, I worked for a start-up that provided lunch every Wednesday. Hands down, the popular favorite was food from Ali Baba. It was through those lunches that I was introduced to Middle Eastern food and kibbeh, delicious football-shaped fried balls of bulghur wheat stuffed with lamb, spices and pine nuts. I don’t know the correct way to eat them, but I always smeared them with tahini or hummus and chased it down with some tabbouleh.

I’ve wanted to make this for a long time but didn’t have a springform pan. I finally caved and got one last week. I messed up a little and didn’t buy fine bulghur wheat (tasted fine but the crust didn’t get as dark as in the book’s examples). I also lined the entire pan (including the bottom) with wax paper instead of lining just the ring, so we had to pick some paper bits out from the crust but despite this, it tasted great! Learn from my mistake and don’t line the bottom of the pan! Served with a fresh chopped vegetable salad with spiced chickpeas (coming up next), this will be going into the rotation.

Open Kibbeh Pie

Open Kibbeh Pie

Open Kibbeh Pie

Open Kibbeh Pie

Open Kibbeh Pie

To save some time, you can throw the garlic, onions and chile together into a food processor and pulse until you’ve got small pieces. The directions are long but none of this is any more difficult than assembling a lasagna.

Open Kibbeh Pie (from Jerusalem cookbook)

  • 1 cup fine bulgur wheat
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 green chile, minced
  • 3/4 lb. ground lamb
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 3 Tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3.5 Tbsp light tahini paste
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sumac (optional…paprika would work too)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line the sides (not the bottom) of springform pan with waxed paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine bulgur wheat and 1 cup of water. Soak for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat 4 Tbsp olive oil in large frying pan and saute garlic, onion and chile until soft. Remove everything from the pan and brown the lamb.
  4. Add onions back to the pan with spices, 1/2 tsp salt, lots of black pepper, cilantro and most of the pine nuts and parsley. (You’ll want enough of the pine nuts and parsley to sprinkle over the top when you’re done). Cook for a few minutes, remove from heat, taste, and adjust the seasonings if necessary.
  5. Drain any remaining liquid from the bulgur. Add flour, 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt and a pinch of black pepper. Mix everything by hand until you have a mixture that just holds together. Add a bit more flour if the mixture is too sticky.
  6. Pack firmly into the bottom of the springform pan. Spread the lamb mixture evenly on top and bake for 20 minutes, until the meat is dark brown and very hot.
  7. While the pan is in the oven, whisk together tahini paste, lemon juice, 3.5 Tbsp water and a pinch of salt. Add a little extra water if necessary to achieve a thick but pourable sauce.
  8. Remove pie from the oven, spread tahini sauce on top, sprinkle with reserved pine nuts and chopped parsley and return to the oven. Bake for another 10-12 minutes until the tahini starts to set and pine nuts start to get golden.
  9. Remove from oven and serve at warm or room temperature. Before serving, sprinkle sumac and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.


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