Kibbeh Nayeh: The Finest Lebanese Dish for all Festivities
BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Arab America Contributing Writer
In the U.S. today, health departments urge Americans left and right to avoid consuming raw meat, but the Lebanese community is scoffing off those warnings for the delicious kibbeh nayeh.
Raw kibbeh, known as kibbeh nayeh, is the quintessential Lebanese dish appearing at all holiday feasts. It consists of raw, ground beef or lamb mixed with Arab spices (salt, pepper, allspice, and maybe cinnamon and nutmeg), minced onion, and fine bulgur. Some people like to drizzle the meat with olive oil, mint, and tomatoes on top. After serving, guests at the table use their hands or Arab bread to scoop into the meat and eat it as is – raw.
In the old days, Arabs and the rest of the world would slaughter an animal and eat it for days. But in Lebanon, the tradition remains. If prepared correctly, no one will get sick from consuming raw meat. Butchers use clean tools at the start of the day to prepare kibbeh nayeh, or Arabs will grind the meat themselves at home to ensure safety.
Trusted butchers in the Arab American community have been practicing similar safety precautions of their ancestors to keep kibbeh nayeh on the table for every holiday. This New Year’s Eve, put kibbeh nayeh on the table to experience the heavenly taste of fresh meat.
1 white onion
2-3 mint sprigs
500 g very fresh minced lamb
135 g (¾ cup) fine burghul, washed, drained
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp allspice
mint leaves, chopped, to garnish
extra virgin olive oil, to garnish
Chop half of the onion and place in a food processor with the mint sprigs and pulse a few times. Add 125 g of the minced lamb to onion mixture and process to a paste.
Place the lamb paste, remaining minced lamb, burghul, salt, ground black pepper, and allspice in a large bowl and knead the mixture with your fingers. (Keep a bowl of ice water nearby to dip your hands in while kneading to prevent the mixture sticking to them.)
Turn out kibbeh onto a large plate and flatten to about 2 cm thick.
Scatter over the mint leaves, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately with remaining white onion sliced, tabouleh, hummus, and labneh. You can eat all these elements together with Lebanese bread.
Recipe source: www.sbs.com
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