كبة بَالصنِية – Kibbeh Bisseniye : Burghul and Mince Baked Layers with Spiced Mince and Nut Filling

This is a traditional Lebanese recipe that is delicious, healthy and full of flavour.

Traditionally Kibbeh comes in many forms; some are football shaped filled with mince and nuts, then deep fried as an apetizer. This version contains the same ingredients but is baked instead of fried, hence saving on time and calories.

Dare I say, however, it is equally as delicous!

To make (makes enough for a family + leftovers for lunch):

For the outside (kibbeh) layers

1/2 kg fine burghul- soaked in enough water for about 1 hour – Drain later before using

250 gms lean beef of lamb mince

One medium onion – chopped

Handful of fresh mint, or a few tablespoons dry ground mint

Orange or lemon zest to taste ( I dont use it because my husband isnt a big fan of lemon flavours in food)

2 tablespoons ground corriander

Ground black pepper

Salt to taste

  • Blitz all ingredients in the food processor until a paste forms. It should be a bit grainy but not too rough.

For the filling:

250- 300 gms lamb mince

One or two large onions (according to preference)

Handful of chopped toasted slivered almonds or pine nuts

2 teaspoons ground corriander

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon ground clove

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 Tablespoon sumak

alternatively you can use middle-eastern Baharat Spice mix

To make:

Brown mince in some oil in a hot pan, add onion and cook well. Add spices and fry off until dry. Do not burn. Season well and add the nuts. Set aside for stuffing

To assemble:

Add half the kibbeh mix to a greased/lined baking tin (I used a rectangular 20X 30 cm pan, but you can use any shape). Flatten out to fom an even later. You might need to wet your hands to make this easier.

Add the mince mixture and spread evenly.

Now the tricky part! Make medium sized patties and place ontop of the mince. Do not press hard. Repeat the process as if you are making a quilt, then press the seams together to make an even layer.

Wet your hands and gently run you fingers over the top to form an even and smooth surface

Cut out to desired shape and drizzle generously with olive oil and or butter/ghee. Garnish with raw almonds

Bake in a medium heat oven until cooked and springy to touch. Place under grill for extra colouration/crispy top.

Serve with rice and yogurt salad.



Freekah, Capsicum, Corn and Lamb Spiced Porridge.

Last week while out with my son, I found myself stuck without any food for him ( I was out longer than planned) and couldnt spot any supermarkets in my near vicinity.

I found a small lebanese foodshop so I bought some labneh (basically strained yogurt with some salt) and fed it to him with some bread.

I felt a bit dissapointed.. because I didnt think I would use it myself later. I dreaded it just sitting there in the fridge and I expected it to be laden with fat, so a no go food for me in my weight management efforts.

Having a look at the back it was surprisingly only 7% fat, yet lusciously creamy and delicious. Remincant of philly cream cheese.

So I’ve been using it with my smoked salmon sandwiches .. and I found that it works exceptionally well with this recipe I made for last weekend’s dinner.

This is a must try!

You will need:

3-4 pieces of lamb on the bone ( I used half neck and shanks)

1 cup freekah (green wheat available at Arab shops)

Half a medium red capsicum and half a green capscicum – diced

Corn off half a cob

One large onion- finely diced

5 cloves of garlic – minced

3 tablespoons paprika

1-3 tablespoons freshly ground cumin (to taste)

1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)

One medium ripe tomato (pureed)

salt and pepper to taste

chilli powder (to taste) – optional

To make:

Fry off onions and capsicum in some oil (I used half sunflower half olive oil) until fragrant. Add lamb bones and fry off until they pick up some colour. Add remaining  ingredients with suffient water and allow to cook until lamb is tender.

If you want the freekah to be more chewy, only add when the lamb is 75% cooked.

This is delicious served with Toasted Turkish bread, a generous dollop of Labneh (or sour cream) and some drops of chilli sauce!


Arab Stuffed Lamb Style Rice

This is a recipe for the rice used in stuffing whole lambs. It is mildly spiced but full of flavour. You dont need to buy a whole sheep to enjoy this rice, you can enjoy it anytime. This recipe is perfect for guests especially in Ramadan.   You will need: 250 gms lean lamb mince 1 large onion -diced 1 large clove garlic – minced 1/2 cup toasted half almonds 2 cups basmati rice 1/3 teaspoon cinnamon (more or less to taste) 1 teaspoon allspice (more or less to taste) 1/2 cup frozen peas 2 tablespoons madras curry powder (optional) salt and pepper to taste To make: Saute onions in some oil for a few minutes. Add mince and fry off on medium heat until it picks up some brown colour. Do not burn. Add garlic and spices. Stir for a minute. Add water, almonds, seasoning and peas. Add rice and cook as usual. Serve with cucumber,mint and yogurt salad. Enjoy!

Biryani Demystified

Biryani is one of those dishes that when you first taste you never believe you could make it yourself. I have found many recipes online, but here I will try to break it down for you.

The first step is you need to make a good ”curry” which is the base flavour for the biryani. You need to have a fairly thick gravy. (Here I made 500 gms of lamb pieces with one large potato in a curry)

For the curry you will need:

500 gms lamb pieces (on the bone, fat removed)

One large potato-chopped

One large onion-sliced

2 cloves of garlic-minced

One tablespoon of minced ginger

Half a medium tomato- chopped

1/2 cup of yogurt- mixed until smooth

handful of corriander – chopped

Juice of one medium lemon

Biryani powder mix or your favourite curry powder (about 2-3 tablespoons, but be careful to check the chill content)

optional whole spices: 5 cloves, 3 cardomoms, 2 bayleaves, cinnamon stick

about 1/3-1/2 cup of oil

To make:

Fry off the onions until golden, add garlic, ginger and tomatoes. Fry off until fragrant and then add the meat. Fry well and add a couple of tablespoons of spice mix. You need to ensure everything is fragrant and well cooked (the onions etc but not the meat) when frying. This intensives the flavour. Make sure not to burn the mix though.

Add water, and allow the meat to cook slowly until soft.  Reduce the gravy mix to thick soup consistency (you dont want too much liquid). Add the potatos and yogurt and lemon juice. Season well.

Once done, add corriander and set aside.

Now cook  2-3 cups of soaked basmati rice in plenty of boiling salted water until 90% cooked. Strain and layer half of the rice in a baking dish. Add the meat/potato curry mix in the middle and then add the remaining rice on top. Make sure not to put too much gravy in the middle as you dont want it to be wet.

For a variation in colour, add some food colouring dissolved in water to the top layer of rice shown below.. but dont go crazy with it! .. a little bit goes a long way.

Cover with aluminium foil and bake in a hot oven for about 20-30 mins, until rice is completely cooked.

Allow to cool and fluff the rice to mix together. Garnish with corriander, roasted sultanas/almonds or cashews.

Serve with yogurt dip and fresh salad.


  • Biryani is usually cooked on a stove top, but I find baking in the oven much more convenient. It can be very tricky cooking the rice this way in pot as the bottom layer can easily burn.
  • For professional results, use the best quality basmati rice you can afford. If you look at the pics you will see the grains arent as long as the ones served at restaurants because I used a medium grade basmati rice. The best basmati rice is longer and is slightly thicker.. but it comes at a cost! so use it when you want to impress 🙂
  • I often find microwaving the end product intensifies the flavour and gives a more professional result.

A feast from the Middle-East

Tonight’s dinner was inspired by the Middle-East: Meat pizzas, hummus dip and tabouli salad.

For the meat pizzas (lahm bi-ajeen) topping: (makes approx 2-4 large pizzas)

250 gms lean lamb mince

2 medium onions

2 medium tomatos (can add more)

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped flat-leaf parsely- Handful (optional)

half small capsicum -chopped (optional)

Paprika or chilli powder and lemon wedges for serving

For the dough:

1/2 kg plain flour (take out one cup or so for kneading)

one sachet instant yeast (8gms)

1.5 teasp each salt and sugar

1/4 cup oil (sunflower or corn or any other mild tasting oil)

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1 cup of warm water
Dissolve yeast with sugar and salt in water, then mix everything else except the flour until smooth. Add the flour little by little untill you form a dough.

Knead lightly adding a bit more flour if necessary (dont add too much as this will make the dough heavy and not soft). It is ok if it is sticky, it will become easier to handle later. Cover well and allow to rise to about double before kneading again lightly to make a smooth dough.

To make:

Blend all ingredients (except the parsely and capsicum) in a food processor until smooth.

Grease a tray with some oil and lay flat the dough, patting down to desired thickness. Grease your hands with oil if too sticky to work with.  Add a layer of meat mix. Bear in mind that the meat will shrink, so push it further out to the edge than you normally would. Allow to rise again for about 15mins while hte oven is heating. This makes your dough light and airy, and happens naturally if you prepare all your trays at once.

Bake in a very hot preheated (200-250 deg) oven on middle shelf (if you have a fan forced oven) until cooked through and crispy on the bottom. I sometimes bake on bottom shelf then lift to the top shelf.


3 cups cooked chickpeas (cooking water reserved)

1/2 cup of cooking water (approx)

1/3 cup tahini paste

One medium clove garlic

Juice of one lemon (approx 1/2 cup. more or less to taste)

2 teaspoons cumin powder (more or less to taste)

2 tablespoons of vingear

Chilli powder (optional)

Blend everything together in a food processor until smooth. You may need to add more or less of the cooking water, so add a bit at a time until desired texture is achieved.

Tabouli Salad:

2 cups chopped flat-leaf parsely

1/2 cup fine burgul (soaked in about 1.5 cups of water)

Two Tablespoons finely chopped onions

One tomato (chopped finely)

Juice of one lemon (more or less to taste)

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything together. You may add some olive oil if you like


  • The dough recipe yields a beatiful dough when cooked. It is soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. The key is to keep the dough moist and sticky, not adding too much flour when kneading. Only knead enough to form a workable dough.
  • Once you  get started working on the dough, you may find that the remaining amount starts rising (more than you want). If you are not working fast enough, just place the dough in the fridge until you are ready to use it again. This will stop it from rising too much and spoiling the taste (it will become very yeasty)
  • The capsicum/parsley combination is used in turkish style pizzas. For lebanese or arab style, you can add a pinch of ground cinnamon and not add the capsicum/parsely.