• Pumpkin kibbeh (Food Safari Earth)Source: Food Safari Earth

From the crunchy shell to the spiced stuffing, this vegetarian version of kibbeh is one to have in your repertoire and enjoyed all year round. 






Skill level

Average: 3.5 (94 votes)

"This recipe from our dear friend Lebanese home cook Judy Saba is a version of her mother’s recipe, made communally with relatives each year during the period of Lent. “Amidst stories, laughter and repeated recipe discussions I would watch them from my vantage point - eye level with the table, swiftly and perfectly moulding pumpkin and bulgur torpedo shapes, filling them witha mixture of sautéed greens sourced from their gardens and finishing them ready for a leap of faith into the pot of hot dancing oil. These are a true homage to my mother’s favourite phrase: The best meal is the one made wholly from what the earth yields”. This is a magnificent recipe that needs to be made and enjoyed all year!" Maeve O'Meara, Food Safari Earth 



  • 1 kg butternut pumpkin (or a mix of butternut and Jap)
  • salt
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • 400 g (2 cups) fine burghul, plus a tad extra if needed
  • 1 brown onion, finely grated and squeezed to remove excess juice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp baharat (Lebanese mixed spice)
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs marjoram, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • ¼ cup mint leaves, finely chopped
  • pinch chilli powder (optional)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 orange
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 heaped tbsp plain flour, approximately
  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • plain Greek yoghurt, or labne drizzled with olive oil, to serve


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely diced
  • 1 tsp baharat (Lebanese mixed spice)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ⅓ cup drained tinned chickpeas (organic if possible), rinsed, drained well, peeled and halved
  • 600 g mixed greens (baby spinach, kale, wild sorrel, endive), finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sumac
  • ½ tsp chilli powder (optional)
  • diced fetta or haloumi (optional)

Cook's notes

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.


Chilling time: 1 hour

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cut the unpeeled pumpkin into chunks. Place in a baking tray, season with salt and drizzle with olive oil. Cover with foil and roast for 30-35 minutes or until tender. Remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the skins and place the warm pumpkin flesh into a large mixing bowl. Add the burghul and knead together as this will soften and soak the burghul. Add the cumin and baharat and more burghul if the mixture is still too wet. Add the onion, herbs and chilli, if using and combine well. Add the citrus zest and season to taste with salt and pepper, then knead all the ingredients together by hand, gradually adding the flour, using just enough to reach a firm dough consistency. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the mixture to firm up and make it easier to mould.

Meanwhile, for the filling, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and sauté the onion until translucent. Stir in the baharat, cumin and chickpeas. Add the mixed greens and continue turning and folding until the greens have wilted. Add the sumac, then season with salt, pepper and chilli if using. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. If you are planning to add the fetta or haloumi, add it after the mixture has cooled slightly.

To assemble the kibbeh, it will help to have a small bowl of water handy as you will need to dip your fingers in water from time to time whist shaping the torpedoes. Take a small amount of the kibbeh mixture and roll it into a small ball about the size of a ping pong ball. Whilst holding the ball in the palm of your left hand, wet the tip of your right index finger and place an indent into the ball. Gently create an egg-shaped cavity by rotating the ball whilst at the same time pressing into the mixture and shaping it into a hollow shell. Stuff the cavity with some of the filling, then close the opening by forming a peak. To achieve the traditional torpedo shape, place it into the palm of your hands and mould by cupping your palm around it and turning until shaped. Place on a lined tray and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before frying. 

To cook the kibbeh, heat the vegetable oil in a deep fryer or large saucepan to 180°C. Fry the kibbeh a few at a time, being careful not to overcrowd the pan, until they are a light golden brown. Drain on paper towel and serve warm or hot. I love to serve these with plain Greek yoghurt or labne, drizzled with olive oil.


Brand-new series Food Safari Earth airs Thursdays at 8pm on SBS then on SBS On Demand. For recipes and more visit the program site right here.