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Recipe for :

Kibbeh - Stuffed Cracked Wheat Shells

This is a recipe that I was delighted to get hold of because it comes from a long time ago when the World was young, or at least I was. I had never had this recipe and could only vaguely remember the name. (I thought it  was something like "Kidbee"). It is thanks to Christina Al-Sudairy whose "Middle Eastern Recipes" has become a new Food Links site this week that I am now able to feature it.

The recipe actually comes from "Mediterranean Cookery" by Claudia Roden. (I have not been able to find internet links so let me know if you have any).

And the story? Many years ago, I was away at boarding school, known as Public School in the UK. Around about 1964 or 1965 a good friend of mine, by the name of Ahmed Kassas, brought back from a visit home some snacks to eat later in the week. All those years ago our diet was pretty mundane and boring and the taste of Kibbeh was an absolute delight.

Whenever he went home after that I would always ask him to bring some back to school - he usually did. We parted in 1966 and I have not seen him since and do not know what became of him. Now after over 34 years I have the recipe so I will be able to make my own Kibbeh and introduce my children to it!


For the shells:
250 g (8 oz) burghul (cracked wheat)
500 g (1 lb) minced beef
1 onion, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper

For the stuffing:
1 onion, finely chopped
2 Tbs. sunflower oil
2 Tbs. pine-nuts
500 g (1 lb) minced beef
salt and pepper

Sunflower oil for deep-frying


  • To make the shells, soak the cracked wheat for about 20 minutes in water, then drain. Blend the meat, onion, salt and pepper in a food processor. Then process again, in batches, with the cracked wheat and continue until the mixture is soft enough to work like a dough. Knead well by hand
  • For the stuffing, fry the onion in oil until soft, then add the pine-nuts and fry until golden. Add the meat, salt and pepper and stir until the meat changes colour.
  • Wet your hands. Take a small egg-sized portion of the shell mixture and roll into a ball. Make a hole in the centre with your finger and shape into a thin-walled pot with a pointed bottom by turning and pressing it in your palm. Place some stuffing into the hole and pinch the top of the pot together to seal it. Shape the top into a point. Repeat with the rest of the mixtures, wetting your hands frequently.
  • Heat the oil. Deep fry 4 or 5 kibbeh at a time until golden brown and drain on kitchen paper. Serve hot.

Makes 20