Kibbeh Balls (Kibbeh Iras)

By / Food / August 31st, 2022 / 7

By Chef Barbara Massaad

Makes about 24


  • 1 small onion, quartered 
  • 8 oz (225 g) lean ground lamb leg or beef sirloin 
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice 
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional) 
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Ice cubes 
  • 2½ cups (400 g) fine brown bulgur
  • Vegetable oil, for deep-frying 


  • 1 tablespoon clarified butter or butter 
  • ¼ cup (35 g) pine nuts 
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped 
  • 9 oz (250 g) coarsely ground lamb or beef with 20% fat 
  • ¼ teaspoon salt 
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice 
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin (optional) 
  • ½ tablespoon pomegranate molasses (optional)

To make the kibbeh shell mixture, very finely chop the onion in a food processor. Add the ground meat, along with the spices and salt and a couple of ice cubes. Blend until you have a smooth, creamy paste. Wash and drain the bulgur well, then add it to the meat mixture. Pulse for 1 minute to combine. Transfer to a mixing bowl.

Prepare a small bowl of ice water. Dipping your hands into the ice water periodically to prevent sticking, knead the mixture for a few minutes until smooth and uniform.

To make the stuffing, melt ½ tablespoon of the clarified butter in a frying pan. Sauté the pine nuts until golden brown, watching carefully so they don’t burn. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels to drain. Add the rest of the clarified butter to the pan and sauté the onion until translucent. Stir in the ground meat, salt, and spices and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until well browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Once cooked, stir in the fried pine nuts and set aside.

Again moistening your hands with the cold water, divide the shell mixture into even balls each about the size of a walnut. Place one ball in your hand. Poke a hole in the ball using the index finger of your other hand, and rotate your finger to make a hollow. The walls of the shell should be an even ½ in (1 cm) thick and the length about 3 in (8 cm). Be careful not to pierce the bottom or sides of the shell. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of the stuffing into the hollow and pinch the opening together with moistened fingers to seal the opening, forming the kibbeh into a football shape. Repeat with the remaining shell mixture and stuffing.

At this stage, you can freeze them (first spaced out on a tray, then 

in sealed containers or bags; fry them from frozen), use them in recipes calling for kibbeh balls, or proceed to frying.

Pour vegetable oil into a large pot or deep-fryer to a depth of 2 in (5 cm). Heat until the oil reaches a temperature of 350°F (180°C), or until small bubbles gather around a small piece of bread dropped into the oil. Working in batches, deep-fry the kibbeh for 3–4 minutes until golden brown on all sides. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a colander to drain excess oil. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Barbara Abdeni Massaad is a food writer, TV host, cookbook author, and a regular contributor to international cooking magazines. She is the author of Interlink’s bestselling cookbook Man’oushe: Inside the Street Corner Lebanese Bakery. She won the the Gourmand Cookbook Award and the International Academy of Gastronomy Award forMouneh: Preserving Foods for the Lebanese Pantry.

Born in Beirut, Lebanon, she moved to Florida at a young age. She gained her real culinary experience while helping her father in their family-owned Lebanese restaurant, Kebabs and Things. After moving back to Lebanon in 1988, and completing university there, she decided to pursue her passion for cooking. Determined to gain proper experience within the culinary world, Barbara trained with several renowned chefs at Lebanese, Italian, and French restaurants. She is also a founding member of Slow Food Beirut and an active participant in the International Slow Food movement. She lives in Beirut with her husband and three children.

Excerpted from Forever Beirut by Barbara Massaad Copyright © 2022. Published by Interlink Publishing.


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