Kubbeh Hamusta

Sherri Ansky

2 hours

35 kubbeh dumplings

Kubbeh Hamusta
Photography: Matan Choufan

This recipe is from the 1992 book “Eating in Jerusalem.” The book was accompanied by an exhibition at the Tower of David Museum, curated by writer Sherri Ansky, and is a collection of recipes taken from the kitchens that make up the tapestry known as Jewish “Jerusalem cuisine.” She describes kubbeh hamusta, a sour soup with meat-filled dumplings, as “a Friday noon-time delicacy.” Adding: “In Jerusalem, everyone is willing to swear, and also physically fight, for the honor that their grandmother’s kubbeh is the best… Kubbeh soup is no longer reserved to Kurdish and Iraqi Jews, but for anyone who understands food, no matter where their mother was born.”

Meat | Shabbat | Soup

Ingredients

  • For the dough
  • 1 cup finely ground bulgur 
  • ½ cup semolina
  • Salt
  • Flour
  • For the filling
  • Oil, for frying
  • 14 ounces / 400 grams beef with fat (such as ribs), finely chopped with a large, sharp knife (not minced)
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 internal celery stalks (the lighter green ones), finely chopped
  • For the soup
  • Frying oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, with the leaves, chopped
  • 4 chard leaves, chopped
  • 2 zucchinis, cut into medium strips
  • Salt 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 cups / 3 liters of chicken broth or water (you can season the water with bouillon powder to your taste)
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed 
  • ½ tablespoon citric acid

Preparation

  1. Prepare the filling: Heat the oil in a small pan over a medium heat. Add the meat and fry with salt and pepper for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce to a low heat and fry slowly for about 1 hour, occasionally stirring, until the meat is dry but not burnt. Towards the end of the frying, mix in the garlic and celery and fry several more minutes. Remove from the heat, taste and adjust the seasoning, and cool to room temperature.
  2. Prepare the dough: As the meat cooks, place the bulgur in a large bowl, cover with water to 2-inches / 5-cm above the bulgur and set aside for 45 minutes, allowing the bulgur to absorb all of the water. The bulgur should be very wet, so add more water if necessary.
  3. Discard any remaining water and add the semolina and salt. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of flour and knead to a smooth, soft, and pliable dough. If you are making this for the first time and still not sure, cut a small piece of dough, roll it into a ball and try to “pierce” it with your finger. The texture should be flexible and the dough should open easily without cracks, holes or crumbling edges. If the texture still isn’t right, add a little water or flour, as needed.
  4. Prepare the kubbeh balls: Fill a shallow bowl with water then wet your left palm and the finger of your right hand. Cut a piece of dough and roll it into a ping pong-sized ball. Insert a wet finger into the ball and open it up into the palm of your hand, while slowly turning to create a hole in the center for the filling. Occasionally wet your hands to prevent the dough from sticking.
  5. Place a teaspoon of filling in the center, but do not pack it too tightly — it should have space to breathe. 
  6. Wet your entire right palm and use it to roll the edges over the filling. Using a wet finger, make sure the edges are sealed. Press the kubbeh lightly with your fingertips to a flat patty, but do this gently and slowly. It’s not terribly complicated, but it requires skill and patience. Repeat this with the remaining dough and the filling. At this stage, you can freeze the kubbeh balls for future use (be sure to separate the dumplings with parchment paper).
  7. Prepare the soup: Heat the oil in a large, wide pot. Add the chopped onion and fry until golden. Add the chard, celery, and zucchini, season with salt and pepper, mix well and fry for 1 minute. Add the stock (or water) and bring to a boil. Add the garlic and citric acid, taste, and adjust the seasoning (the soup should be sour). Cook for 5 minutes.
  8. Place the kubbeh balls in the boiling soup, adding them 5 at a time, so that they do not stick to each other. Cook for 30 minutes. 
  9. Allow the soup to stand for at least 1 hour before re-heating and serving.

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