Open Kibbeh

Open Kibbeh, from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

When asked to select a recipe he regards as emblematic of his new cookbook, Yotam Ottolenghi chose kibbeh, balls of minced meat and bulgar wheat; Jerusalem, he said, is the “world capital of kibbeh.” Ottolenghi’s open kibbeh take a new twist on the traditional balls.

1/2 cup fine bulgar wheat
1/3 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 green chile, finely chopped
12 oz. minced lamb
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground coriander
2 Tbsp. roughly chopped coriander
2/3 cup pine nuts
3 Tbsp. roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
2 Tbsp. self-rising flour (plus a little extra if needed)
1/2 cup light tahini
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. sumac
Salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Line a spring form cake pan with greaseproof paper.

Place the bulgar in a large bowl and cover it with 1 1/4 cup of water. Leave for 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 4 Tbsp. of olive oil in a large flying pan. Saute the garlic, onion, and chile until they are completely soft. Remove everything from pan, then return it to high heat, adding the lamb. Cook for five minutes, stirring constantly until brown.

Return the onion mixture to the pan and add cinnamon, allspice, coriander, 1/2 tsp. salt, a generous grind of black pepper, and most of the pine nuts and parsley, leaving some aside. Cook for a few minutes, remove from heat, taste, and adjust seasoning.

Check the bulgar to see that the water has been absorbed. Strain to remove any remaining liquid. Add the flour, 1 Tbsp. of olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt and a pinch of black pepper and knead into a mixture that barely holds together. Add a bit more flour if it’s very sticky. Push firmly into the base of the tin so that it is compacted and leveled. Spread the lamb mixture evenly on top and press it down a little. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the meat is quite a dark brown and very hot.

While you wait, whisk together the tahini paste with the lemon juice, 1/4 cup of water, and a pinch of salt. You are after a very thick yet pourable sauce. If needed, add a tiny amount of extra water.

Remove the kibbeh cake from the oven, spread the tahini sauce evenly on top, sprinkle with reserved pine nuts and chopped parsley and return to the oven immediately. Bake for 10-12 minutes until tahini is just settling and has taken on a little bit of color and the pine nuts are golden.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool until warm or room temperature. Before serving, sprinkle the top with the sumac and a drizzle of olive oil. Carefully remove the sides of the tin and cut the kibbeh into slices. Lift them gently so they won’t break.

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