Raw Meat? Think Kibbeh Not Sushi.
Kibbeh Nayyeh is a signature dish in Levantine Cuisine. Kibbeh Nayyeh means “raw Kibbeh.” Not sure what Kibbeh translates into however. In my opinion, this is the king of Mezze, which is the feast of appetizers that rolls out on a Levantine table before the main course. It might be a foreign concept to most of you to eat raw meat, but this is not just any raw meat! This is the Levant’s version of Lamb Tartar and only a few will really enjoy and appreciate this East Mediterranean delicacy.
This dish has a very special place in my heart. Growing up my grandmother made it for me every single time I asked for it. It can be 9 at night and all I had to do was go up the staircase to her house, knock on her front door and say, “Teta, baddi bikki.” Teta means grandma, “baddi” means I want, and “Bikki” is the Kibbeh Nayyeh, I just called it Bikki as a small child because Kibbeh Nayyeh was just too much, too long of a word! Teta enjoyed Kibbeh as much as I did, she especially enjoyed making it. She had a meat grinder that was probably made during the First World War! That thing weighed at.east a hundred pounds! She always claimed that it was the best machine ever created. She’s ground a ton of meat since she's started using it!
I still remember watching her as a little kid shoving that meat and cracked wheat down the grinder and it always terrified me. I would always worry that her fingers would get jammed inside and come out from the other end! I always advised her to use wooden spatula but I guess tens of years of experience gives you the right to use your fingers and be confident that you won’t chop them off!
Teta made the best Kibbeh on the planet. Sometimes I would steal bites before she would even finish mixing it. She loved the fact that I was so fond of her Kibbeh! It became so pleasurable for her to make, and of course for me it was as delightful and joyful as getting a huge box of candy. Oh how much I love Teta and her Kibbeh!
Here’s how I make my Teta’s Kibbeh :)
1.5 LBS of the leanest meat available (Beef or Lamb)
1.5 cups fine cracked red wheat (Red Burghul)
1 red bell pepper
1 small onion
5 large basil leaves
A few mint leaves
1 tbs salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 tbs Marjoram
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
Soak the Burghul in water for 15 minutes then to drain, you’ll have to squeeze the water out with your hands and place in a dry bowl. Place the onion, red bell pepper basil and mint in the food processor until totally minced. Then after you’ve dried the Burghul, add into the food processor and mix very well. Finally, add the meat and spices to the food processor and mix again. Let the dish sit for a few minutes in the fridge before serving. Add olive oil on top right before serving. Keep in mind that this is raw meat, which means you can’t let it sit out for too long. What is left over can’t be stored in the fridge for later and should be tossed out. So which one of you adventurous souls is going to give this dish a shot!? Always remember, anything cooked with love will taste delicious!