Pumpkin kibbeh

Pumpkin kibbeh

pumpkin kibbeh lunch

Even though we still haven’t said goodbye to summer in these parts (we were on the beach this past weekend), pumpkins have already made an appearance on our green grocer’s shelves.

As I’m a massive pumpkin aficionado, I had to get one, I couldn’t help myself. Instead of making my favourite autumn pasta with it, I decided to marry it up with Middle Eastern flavours to make pumpkin kibbeh balls.

Kibbeh is one of these dishes that is typically made with mince meat, but there are vegetarian versions, which are usually consumed during the period of fasting. All the recipes I’ve seen incorporate pumpkin purée into the shell dough, but I wanted a more decisive pumpkin flavour so I added chopped pumpkin (together with chickpeas) to the filling instead.

It took me a few goes to get the balance of flavours right, but I am really pleased with how these crispy beauties turned out. I fried mine but if you are not keen on that idea, you can also bake them in the oven instead 🙂 .

pumpkin kibbeh before frying

pumpkin kibbeh after frying

pumpkin kibbeh inside

pumpkin kibbeh portion

makes
20
PREP
45 min
COOKING
30 min
makes
20
PREPARATION
45 min
COOKING
30 min
INGREDIENTS

KIBBEH SHELL

  • 200 g / 1 cup extra fine bulgur wheat*
  • 2½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 2½ tsp baharat spice**
  • 4 tbsp / ¼ cup plain flour
  • ½ onion, grated finely (optional)
  • 1-2 tbsp reduced aquafaba (optional, SEE INSTRUCTIONS)

KIBBEH FILLING

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced finely
  • 1 heaped cup of baked pumpkin cubes (approx. ¼ medium pumpkin), chopped
  • ¼ cup cooked chickpeas, chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 tsp baharat spice
  • ½ tsp hot chilli (optional)
  • 1 tsp sumac OR lemon juice, to taste
  • 1 heaped tbsp walnuts, toasted (optionally) and chopped
  • 1 heaped tbsp sultanas, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander OR parsley, chopped finely
  • sunflower oil for frying

METHOD
SHELLS

  1. Rinse bulgur wheat, shake any excess water off and place it in a medium bowl. Pour 1¼ cup of boiling water over bulgur wheat and immediately cover the bowl with an upside down plate. Set aside for about 15-20 mins, until all the water gets absorbed. Start making the filling whilst waiting.
  2. Unless you managed to buy extra fine bulgur wheat, I found that it is really helpful to give rehydrated bulgur wheat a good whizz in my food processor before combining it with other ingredients. This step makes it much easier to mould the dough into kibbeh shells afterwards, especially when it comes to medium and large size bulgur wheat.
  3. Add salt, baharat spice, flour and finely grated onion (if using) to the rehydrated bulgur wheat. Knead it all well with your hands until you obtain a pliable dough.
  4. If you would rather bake your kibbeh than fry them, I found that adding a tablespoon or two of reduced aquafaba (the more it resembles an egg white the better) helps as the balls do not dry out and crack as much in the oven. If you intend to fry them, you can safely skip this step.
  5. Chill the dough in the fridge to ensure that it is easier to work with.

FILLING

  1. Heat up 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy bottom frying pan. Add diced onion and saute on a low-medium heat until translucent, stirring from time to time.
  2. Add baharat spice and fry it off gently on a low heat, stirring the whole time.
  3. Add baked pumpkin, chickpeas, walnuts, sultanas and a splash of water. Season with salt, sumac and chilli if using. Cook for a few minutes until all the flavours come together well and the water cooks out.
  4. Let the filling cool down. Finally, mix in the chopped herbs.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Remove the dough from the fridge and prepare a small bowl of water so that you can keep your hands moist while forming kibbeh balls.
  2. Wet your hands. Take a spoon of the shell mixture and mould it into a shell against your left hand with your right hand (unless you are left-handed). Once you get a compact shell, place a teaspoon of the filling mixture in the middle and mould the dough around it. Fill any holes with extra mixture and smooth the surface of the ball with wet fingers. Make sure there are no gaps in the shell as otherwise the kibbeh may burst during frying.
  3. pumpkin kibbeh making it

  4. Once you’ve made all the kibbeh balls, heat up a small pot of frying oil on the stove. If you don’t want to fry them, heat up the oven to 355°F / 180°C and brush all the kibbeh with a generous amount of oil. Space them on a baking tray and bake for about 40 mins, or until golden brown.
  5. Once the oil comes to temperature (test it by dropping a piece of dough in. If it starts sizzling immediately, the oil is ready), lower a few kibbeh balls (make sure they have plenty of space in between them) into the hot oil. Fry them for about 2-3 minutes on one side, then flip them onto the other side with a fork and fry for another 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown.
  6. Fish ready kibbeh out with a slotted spoon and place them on a piece of paper towel to drain any excess oil.
  7. Serve immediately after frying with a drizzle of vegan yoghurt or a simple tahini sauce, and a simple salad.

NOTES
*If you cannot find extra fine bulgur wheat, you can use fine or medium grain too. Just make sure you process it in a food processor after ‘cooking’.

**Baharat is an aromatic Middle Eastern spice blend comprising of various amounts of sweet paprika, coriander, black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cloves, nutmeg and caradamom. If you cannot find it, simply use a combination of these spices.

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NUTRITIONAL INFO
calories
68
3%
sugars
1 g
1%
fats
2 g
3%
saturates
0 g
1%
proteins
2 g
4%
carbs
11 g
4%
*per ball
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REVIEWS & QUESTIONS
Sally Amanda Sonnex:
These are divine. I lived in the Middle East many years ago (pre vegan) and adored kibbeh, so was keen to try these. I live alone in a tiny flat in Hong Kong with very limited kitchen space but found the effort well worth it. In fact I’ve made them twice!
I found they freeze well. I also ended up spreading the prep - bake pumpkin after work on Thursday, make filling on Friday night and finish on Saturday morning. The fried version came out best, even using flax egg my baked ones cracked a bit.
Thank you for sharing the recipe. I could eat these every day 😋😜
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks so much for your kind words, Sally. I'm so happy to hear that you liked them and that they brought back nice food memories for you! x Ania
Richard:
Thank you for sharing my all time favorite kibbeh from my childhood in Lebanon.
    Ania
    Ania:
    My pleasure, Richard! :)
amakitten:
thanks so much, I look forward to making these. They look delicious!
    Ania
    Ania:
    I'm so pleased to hear that! Hope you'll like them! :)
amakitten:
is there any alternative to frying? We want to eat healthier, but we love some good kibbeh.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi there,
    Yes, you can also bake them - please read through the instructions. Hope that helps, Ania
petra blahova:
Hello, Brilliant thank you very much for help. Maybe it's a time to get a small pan
    Ania
    Ania:
    my pleasure! he, he, I would say so, but a small pot rather than a pan is better for this kind of frying :)
Petra Blahova:
I know this might sounds strange and weird questions but I never really try to fry anything ball shaped...how much oil should I have in pan and what kind is best for frying?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Petra! You simply need enough oil to submerge the thing you are frying, so in this case I would fill the smallest pot you can find with about 6 cm of oil and fry 2-3 balls at the time. When it comes to the best type of oil for this kind of thing, there is a lot of conflicting views about it on the Internet. I used sunflower oil, but many people swear by rapeseed oil, coconut oil or even olive oil so up to you. Hope you'll make them :) Ania
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