Open Kibbeh


I’m always one to plan varied dinners. I could eat the same thing for breakfast, snack, and lunch 99% of the time for some reason, but I like variety in my dinners. All that said, I’m pretty sure I could eat Middle Eastern food every single night and never tire of it. If I were destined to a life of lamb, tahini, and fattoush, it would be a happy life.

Kibbeh/kibbee is a popular Middle Eastern dish made with ground lamb and bulgur. There are kibbeh meatball type things (which I’m sure  you are surprised I didn’t make) and baked kibbeh. This dish more closely resembles the latter, but it’s “open” because the ground lamb isn’t a filling. In the traditional version a ground lamb mixture is essentially sandwiched between a cooked lamb/bulgur mixture.

The lamb is spiced with flavors we love, like allspice and cinnamon. And, a tahini mixture is spread over the top and baked for a bit at the end. I don’t think I’ve ever really cooked tahini sauce before and I was a little wary of doing so, but clearly I should trust Ottolenghi.

Since this meal already has protein and carbs, we served this alongside a Greek salad for both a complete and completely awesome meal.

Open Kibbeh

  • 40 minutes (30 inactive)
  • 45 minutes
  • 4-6 servings


  • 1 cup fine grain bulgur*
  • 1 cup very hot water*
  • 2.5 Tbsp. olive oil (and additional for drizzling, if desired)
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 green chile, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 lb. ground lamb
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 Tbsp. cilantro
  • scant 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 3.5 Tbsp. tahini
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. sumac


  1. Preheat the oven to 400º and line an 8″ springform or cake pan (or deep pie dish) with parchment paper. Place the bulgur in a large bowl and cover it with the hot water. Leave for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a 1.5 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Saute the onion and chile until they start to soften, then stir in the garlic and lamb. Cook until the lamb is browned and onions are completely softened. Stir in the allspice, cinnamon, coriander, cilantro, salt (between 1/2 and 3/4 tsp.) and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir in about 2/3 of the pine nuts and 2 Tbsp. of the parsley. Cook for a couple of minutes and adjust salt/seasonings accordingly.
  3. Check the bulgur to see if the water has been absorbed (if there is any excess water, drain it off). Add the flour, remaining tablespoon of oil, 1/4 tsp. salt and black pepper to taste. Use your hands to mix everything into a pliable mixture that just holds together, adding more flour if necessary.
  4. Push the bulgur mixture down into the prepared pan until compact and leveled. Spread the lamb mixture evenly over the top and press down slightly. Bake for about 20 minutes until the meat is quite dark brown. Leave the oven on.
  5. Whisk together the tahini and lemon juice, 3.5 Tbsp. water, and a pinch of salt. The mixture should be thick, but pourable (add extra water if necessary). Spread the tahini sauce over the kibbeh and sprinkle with the reserved pine nuts and parsley. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes, until the tahini is jut setting and has taken on a bit of color.
  6. Remove and let set for a while; this can be served warm or at room temperature. Before serving, sprinkle with the sumac and drizzle with additional oil, if desired.

    Note: If you’re using medium or coarse grind bulgur, you may want to either add additional hot water (and possibly increase the soaking time slightly) or cook the bulgur according to the package directions, reducing the cook time by a couple minutes, before proceeding with the recipe.
Adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi

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