In the early 1900s, Tamar Fasja Unikel’s great-grandparents left Aleppo, Syria for Mexico City. At her family’s weekly Shabbat lunches, flavors that reflect that journey sit side by side on the table. Tortillas are laid next to stuffed zucchini in a tamarind sauce, and barbacoa, a slow-cooked meat dish, saddles up to eggplant with rice. Fittingly, the family’s kibbeh recipe, which they refer to as kipe, is served with tahini, avocado, and salsa cruda. Learn more about Tamar’s family on the Jewish Food Society’s archive.
Check out more kubbeh recipes and explore the centuries-long history of this iconic regional dish here.
- 1 cup coarse bulgur wheat
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1¼ pounds ground beef
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
- 3 serrano chiles, finely chopped
- 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
- ¼ cup water
- Place the bulgur in a medium sized bowl and cover with room temperature water. Set aside for 1 hour. Drain and set aside.
- Make the filling layer: Place 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil into a skillet over medium heat and add the finely chopped onion. Saute for about 8 to 10 minutes, until softened and translucent. Add a third of the ground beef, ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper into the pan and cook until the meat is golden, approximately 15 minutes. Transfer from heat and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a rectangular or oval baking pan that is about 9 inches x 13 inches with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
- Place the remaining beef, onion, mint, salt, pepper, bulgur, chiles, and cumin into a large bowl. Mix until combined well. Place half of this mixture into the baking dish and press it down with your fingers into one even layer that reaches the edges of the pan. Sprinkle the cooked beef and onion mixture on top of the first layer evenly. Place the remaining raw beef and bulgur mixture on top in an even layer and press down to flatten the top surface. Use the tip of a knife to score about 4 vertical lines and 4 more lines crossing diagonally over to create a criss cross pattern. Make sure the knife cuts through the mixture to reach the bottom of the pan. Pour ¼ cup of water and ¼ cup of oil over the mixture. Cover with aluminum foil and transfer into the oven. Bake for 1 hour and then uncover the kibbeh and continue baking for 30 to 45 more minutes until it is deep golden brown.
- Serve with salsa and smashed avocado and lime.