Back in the good ol’ days when there was no twitter, facebook, television, oh and a food processor there were lovely ladies who made kebbeh b jorn; minced lamb pounded for at least an hour in a jorn or mortar. Those days are long gone! I had to state the obvious.
As you can imagine making kebbeh this way is lengthy, exhausting, dramatic and I’m not sure makes that much difference in taste or texture. I couldn’t tell and nor did anyone else.
But, it is a very beautiful process to watch.
Kebbeh is Lebanon’s national dish. It’s an art. It was one of the very early dishes I posted about, on this blog. Follow the link for the recipe on making the kebbeh mixture. Kebbeh is one of my favorite dishes in Lebanese cuisine.
So, what goes into kebbeh exactly? The freshest of minced lamb (same day-especially if you’re going to eat it raw), burghul (durum wheat), onion and spices. Then with that mixture you can;
Eat it raw (Kebbeh Naye) which is similar to steak tartare and is one of the popular methods of consumption in Lebanon.
You can spread it in a pan and bake it or you can mold it into torpedo shapes like in kebbeh qrass and stuff them with mince meat, onion and pine nuts. They are then fried or grilled.
Then, there is kibbet samak or fish kebbeh. There is also kibbeh b 3addas or lentils, kebbeh b batata or potatoes and I’ve even seen and made fusion versions such as aubergine kebbeh. So, basically substitute the lamb with the desired ingredient. Oh, and I almost forgot kebbeh ma laban or with yoghurt. Talk about stuff dreams are made of!
And then there is kebbet shaham or grilled kibbeh that is the specialty of a mountain village in north Lebanon, called zghorta. The kebbeh mixture is molded into qrass and then stuffed with small white, solid pieces of fat before it is grilled. The restaurant we had it at still pounded it by hand using a mortar and pestle.
If you like to look after your arteries you can change the filling to incorporate whatever your heart desires. How about a herbed butter; perhaps mint? or adding pomegranate molasses, or tomatoes, or cumin or chili or ginger or caramelized onions or almonds…whatever you think will compliment the lamb or the mixture ingredient of choice.
Don’t forget to remove the rims of meat. Also, the lovely meat pounding lady, said they keep them in the freezer for 30 minutes or in the fridge for 1hr before sending them on their way to the grill. In any case, when you decide to make kebbeh make a huge batch and freeze them for a lazy day! I find it tastes even better.
Alf sahtein! Thousand Healths!