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Open Kibbeh

Yotam Ottolenghi

by Yotam Ottolenghi, Sami Tamimi from Jerusalem

Yotam Ottolenghi's twist on a traditional kibbeh recipe makes a wonderfully comforting lamb main course, bursting with the flavours of the Middle East. Perfect for a Sunday lunch.

From the book

Yotam Ottolenghi, Sami Tamimi


This variation of kibbeh is very untraditional. It is more of a layered savoury cake incorporating the essential elements — bulgar, minced meat, spices and pine nuts — plus the obligatory tahini dipping sauce, spread on top. Serve it warm or at room temperature as a light meal, alongside a sharp aromatic salad such as Tabbouleh or Fattoush.

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125g fine bulgar wheat
90ml olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
350g minced lamb
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tbsp roughly chopped coriander
60g pine nuts
3 tbsp roughly chopped flatleaf parsley
2 tbsp self-raising flour, plus a little extra if needed
50g light tahini paste
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp sumac
salt and black pepper

Essential kit

You will need a 20cm loose-bottomed or spring-form cake tin.


Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas Mark 6. Line a 20cm loose-bottomed or spring-form cake tin with greaseproof paper.

Place the bulgar in a large bowl and cover it with 200ml of water. Leave for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan. Sauté the garlic, onion and chilli on a medium–high heat until they are completely soft. Remove everything from the pan, return it to high heat and add the lamb. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring continuously, until brown.

Return the onion mixture to the pan and add the spices, coriander, ½ a teaspoon of salt, a generous grind of black pepper and most of the pine nuts and parsley, leaving some aside. Cook for a couple of minutes, remove from the heat, taste and adjust the seasoning. Check the bulgar to see if all the water has been absorbed. Strain to remove any remaining liquid. Add the flour, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, ¼ teaspoon of salt and a pinch of black pepper and use your hands to work into a pliable mixture that just holds together; add a little bit more flour if the mixture is very sticky. Push firmly into the base of the tin so that it is compacted and levelled. Spread the lamb mixture evenly on top and press it down a little. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the meat is quite a dark brown and very hot.

While you wait, whisk together the tahini paste with the lemon juice, 50ml of water and a pinch of salt. You are after a very thick, yet pourable sauce. If needed, add a tiny amount of extra water.

Remove the kibbeh cake from the oven, spread the tahini sauce evenly on top, sprinkle with the reserved pine nuts and chopped parsley, and return to the oven immediately. Bake for 10–12 minutes until the tahini is just setting and has taken on a little bit of colour, and the pine nuts are golden.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool down until warm or at room temperature. Before serving, sprinkle the top with the sumac and a drizzle of olive oil. Carefully remove the sides of the tin and
cut the kibbeh into slices. Lift them gently so they don’t break.

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From the book: Jerusalem

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