A guide to kibbeh

Here’s a selection of the 10 most popular types of kibbeh:

Kibbeh is displayed at the Durra market in Al-Madina Al-Munawara street in Amman, Jordan. (Salah Malkawi for The National)
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The northern Syrian city of Aleppo can lay claim to at least 17 types of kibbeh, which are parcels of ground lamb or beef mixed with fine bulgur and plenty of spices – everything from cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and black pepper to cardamom, allspice and a touch of ground ginger. You need a special meat grinder for your food processor if you have any hope of making kibbeh the right way. Here’s a selection of the 10 most popular types of kibbeh:

1. Fried kibbeh, the most commonly known type of kibbeh and often served as hot appetisers in mezzehs at Arabic restaurants worldwide, is a hollow kibbeh shell stuffed with ground meat, onions and nuts, fried in vegetable oil. In Aleppo, it's known as kibbeh meqliyyeh darawish.

2. Kibbeh bil sanieh translates into "kibbeh in a pan". It's a layer of ground meat, onions and nuts, sandwiched between two layers of kibbeh and baked to perfection, with plenty of ghee. Often, pine nuts are pressed into each morsel of kibbeh right before baking as part of its look.

3. Kibbeh labanieh are kibbeh dumplings stuffed with meat, onions, and pine nuts or pistachios cooked in a tangy, sour yoghurt sauce and finished with fresh tarragon.

4. Kibbeh sajieh features two thin layers of kibbeh with ground meat, onions and nuts in between and then  fried in vegetable oil.

5. Grilled kibbeh, or kibbeh mishwiyeh, are dome-shaped dumplings stuffed with meat, onions, and nuts, then chargrilled over mesquite. Often heavy on ghee.

6. Kibbeh skewers are similar to kebabs but made out of kibbeh, which can be either meat kibbeh or chicken kibbeh. The kibbeh is formed on skewers, chargrilled over mesquite and then pan seared in vegetable oil.

7. Kibbet karaz are kibbeh dumplings that are stuffed with the same meat, onion and nut mixture but are also stuffed with pitted sour cherries, and cooked in a sour sauce of pomegranate molasses and reduced cherries. Similarly, kibbeh safarjaliyyeh are kibbeh dumplings made with quince and cooked in fresh pomegranate juice.

8. Kibbeh mishemshiyyeh are kibbeh dumplings stuffed with meat and nuts and pan-fried with fresh, green broad beans then cooked in a yoghurt sauce.

9. Kibbeh nayyeh is raw kibbeh – a well-blended mixture of raw minced lamb and bulgur. It is eaten scooped up in pitta bread, with raw white onions, fresh mint and olive oil.

10. Kibbeh arnabiyeh are kibbeh balls that are hollow and often poached or baked first and then simmered in a sauce that is made combining Seville orange juice or lemon juice and tahini with meat broth and pureed onions.

Hala Khalaf