Syria’s national dish of minced meat and burghul is so deeply loved that over the years its fans have found many different ways to prepare it. The secret is using fresh, very finely minced meat. This is carefully spiced then served raw, baked or fried in endlessly varying shapes, often with delicious fillings (that often include more minced meat). This recipe is for a kind of kibbeh sandwich: a layer of cooked, spiced meat and pine nuts is pressed between two layers of fine kibbeh, then baked and served in wedges like pieces of cake. Serve with salad and drained yoghurt (natural yoghurt that has been drained in muslin until thick).
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 800 g minced lamb or beef
- 4 large onions, finely chopped
- 1 tsp baharat
- ½ tsp cinnamon (optional)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp pine nuts
- 1½ cups fine burghul, soaked overnight in 250 ml water, drained well
- 800 g lean, finely minced lamb or beef (ask your butcher to mince it twice)
- 2 large onions, finely grated
- 1 tsp baharat
- 2 tsp salt
- 3 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time overnight
You will need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead.
For the kibbeh you need to soak the burghul in 250 ml of water overnight. The next day drain well.
To make the filling, heat the oil in a frying pan over low heat and add the meat. Cook, stirring constantly to break up the grains of meat. When the meat is browned and separated and the moisture is starting to evaporate, stir in the onion, spices, salt and pepper and keep cooking until the onion is soft.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small frying pan and add the pine nuts. Fry until they start to brown, then stir into the meat mixture. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
To make the kibbeh, combine the drained burghul, meat, onion, baharat, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well by hand until it forms a paste. You may need a little water to keep the mixture soft. Cover and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C and oil a round baking tray with deep sides (around 2 cm). Dampen your hands and layer the tray with half of the kibbeh by forming small balls of the mixture then flattening them over the tray. Smooth the surface and make sure there are no gaps. Spread the cooled meat filling on top, pressing it down a little to keep the layers tight. Top with the rest of the kibbeh using the same technique. When the surface is smooth, push a small hole through the centre of the kibbeh with your finger. Slice into wedges fanning around the hole. Brush with the olive oil and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.