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Open Kibbeh

June 21, 2021
Open Kibbeh

“When you don’t live somewhere for a long time,” said chef Yotam Ottolenghi, “it’s exciting to come back and relive it.”

Ottolenghi and fellow chef Sami Tamimi live in London, but they revisited their native city for their new collaboration Jerusalem: A Cookbook, in which they re-taste the flavors of their childhoods. In addition to being a nostalgia trip for the authors, Jerusalem is a work of edible anthropology, with recipes from Palestinian culture as well as different Sephardic communities. With its varied recipes, interesting commentary, and dozens of color photos, its depiction of the city is complex and diverse—if still quirky, politically biased, and sadly incomplete.

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.

Featured in: The Taste of Jerusalem

Recipe by: Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi


  • ½cup fine bulgar wheat
  • cup olive oil
  • 2garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1green chile, finely chopped
  • 12oz minced lamb
  • 1tsp ground allspice
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 2Tbsp roughly chopped coriander
  • cup pine nuts
  • 3Tbsp roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2Tbsp self-rising flour (plus a little extra if needed)
  • ½cup light tahini
  • 2tsp lemon juice
  • 1tsp sumac
  • Salt and black pepper


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

  • Step 1

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

  • Step 2

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

  • Step 3

    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.

  • Step 4

    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.

  • Step 5

    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.

  • Step 6

    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.

  • Step 7

    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.

  • Step 8

    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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