This delicious recipe for meat and bulgur balls in yoghurt (kibbeh labaniyya) is a real change from the tomato-based European (Italian) and South Asian (Indian and Burmese) meatball recipes we have made before, and has a pleasingly tangy flavour profile from the natural yoghurt.
The recipe is from Ghillie Başan’s The Lebanese Cookbook and is a simple, comforting and delicious dish, popular in Lebanon and Syria.
Tip: When forming the meatballs, use a rounded tablespoon of mixture for each one.
Lebanese & Syrian Meat and Bulgur Balls in Yoghurt | Kibbeh Labaniyya
For the kibbeh:
- 225 g (8 oz) fine bulgur, well-rinsed and squeezed dry
- 1 onion, cut into quarters
- 225 g (8 oz) lean lamb, diced
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp ground paprika
- sea salt and ground black pepper
For the sauce:
- 850 ml (1½ pints) Greek-style yogurt
- 7.5 ml (½ tbsp) cornflour, mixed to a paste with a little water
- 1 tbsp butter or ghee
- 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
- a small handful of dried mint leaves, crushed
Place the bulgur in a large bowl. Put the onion into the food processor, whizz to a purée, and add it to the bulgur. Process the lamb in batches in the food processor and add the puréed meat to the bulgur. Add the spices and the seasoning to the meat and bulgur mixture and mix well. Blend the mixture in batches, combining it with spoonfuls of cold water to ease the process, or pound it with your fist until smooth. Knead the blended kibbeh mixture once more in the bowl, if using a processor, then cover and put aside.
Beat the yogurt until it is smooth and pour it into a heavy pan. Beat in the cornflour paste with a little salt and gently heat the yogurt, stirring all the time, until it is almost at scalding point – don’t let it boil as it will curdle. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, until it is thick.
Take portions of the kibbeh mixture in your fingers and mould them into ovals. Gently place them in the yogurt sauce, cover, and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, until the kibbeh are cooked.
Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the crushed garlic and mint until the garlic begins to brown.
Spoon the kibbeh onto a serving dish with the yogurt sauce then drizzle the flavoured butter over the top. Serve immediately.
If you love meatballs and the slightly soured dairy flavour of natural yoghurt, this is a recipe you must try!
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Kavey Eats received a review copy of The Lebanese Cookbook by Ghillie Basan from publisher Lorenz Books. Recipe published with permission. Cover and book photography provided by Lorenz. Home cooked recipe photography, Kavita Favelle.