Kibbeh nayeh is a rustic, authentic Lebanese dish of raw minced lamb, burghul (cracked wheat) and spices. I associate it with my childhood, as I remember my mother lovingly make it; she still does today.
Charmaine Nicholson

11 Jul 2012 - 3:01 PM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

Quite cheekily, I would stand next to her and pinch pieces of the minced lamb before it was seasoned and kneaded.

It’s not something you make on short notice, though. The meat needs to be very fresh and free from any fat and sinews. I order mine from a butcher, but my mother prepares it herself by processing a cut of lean lamb, such as backstrap, in a food processor. I never use meat that has been frozen.

I prepare kibbeh nayeh for my family, particularly for special occasions and extended-family gatherings. In 2010, when I visited Lebanon for the first time and was staying in my father’s hometown of Bann, I was excited to see that kibbeh nayeh was the star dish on many tables. Offer it with mezze, such as tabouleh, hummus, labneh (yoghurt cheese, also known as labna) and flatbread, along with barbecued lamb or chicken skewers. Note: kibbeh nayeh should be eaten the day it is made.

Kibbeh nayeh

Interview and photography by Peter Georgakopoulos.