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melamed

Who loves Kubba? Eating and cooking

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I would like to post a topic dear to my heart and stomach, kubba, the ultimate

Middle Eastern dumpling. I once thought there was only one type of kubba (or kibbeh) but after doing a bit of research I found out there are an endless variety, from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Kurdistan, Turkey, Armenia.... They can be baked, fried and stewed. Paula Wolfert gives many kubba tips in her book Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean which was a great help. Of course, my grandmother has a PhD in kubba making and my first kubba teacher.

Here are a few samples of Kuba which I cooked this month

images

tomato kubba

gallery_63527_6495_13562.jpg

syrian fried kubba

gallery_63527_6496_64290.jpg

Kurdish kubba with Arum (don't try this at home)

gallery_63527_6496_110461.jpg

Are there others passionate about Kubba out there?

Sarah

www.zarifa.co.il


Edited by melamed (log)

Cheers, Sarah

http://sarahmelamed.com/

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We also have a strong tradition of kubba in our family. The photo of your grandma on your website is such a familiar scene to me. My grandmother was so quick at making them, she would fill a tray in no time. Every Monday she would make two types of stew with kubba, and we would have our fill, with extra to be enjoyed later in the week. Thank you for bringing all these memories back to me. :smile:

Here are my "kubba patata", a favorite lunchtime snack.

gallery_41870_2503_36684.jpg

gallery_41870_2503_13028.jpg

Here is a stew of kubba with courgettes.

gallery_41870_2503_8403.jpg

gallery_41870_2503_66024.jpg

Actually this week I will be making "kubba schwendar" which is a stew made with beets. I will try to post when it's done.

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It's nice to know that Iraqi cooking is alive and well in Nova Scotia. I have never made potato kubba before, as my family comes from Northern Iraq (what is now the autonomous region of kurdistan) and they have different styles of kubba.

Do you make your kubba with semolina (or perhaps farina?). Beet kubba is my favorite type, I make it sweet and sour and it is just beautiful.

The arum kubba is kurdish. You can read more about the arum plant on my new blog Zarifa's Melting Pot: http://zarifas.blogspot.com/

Delights in the Garden of Eden, by Nawal Nasrallah also has some excellent Iraqi Kubba recipes


Cheers, Sarah

http://sarahmelamed.com/

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Do you make your kubba with semolina (or perhaps farina?). Beet kubba is my favorite type, I make it sweet and sour and it is just beautiful.

We use semolina, # 2 to be exact (you know how finicky grandmothers can be!). We also make our beet kubba sweet and sour, although I find that beets are so sweet these days that I only need to add the "sour", lemon and lime. It's also my favorite.

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I make the fried kibbeh from time to time. From my last attempt

gallery_6878_3484_28759.jpg

I am less skilled at soup kibbeh but will keep trying

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Can somebody give me the basics of kibbeh? Is it any dough stuffed with something and fried or baked or steamed? Are there any rules? They look great.

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I am less skilled at soup kibbeh but will keep trying

wow, I am very impressed, those kibbeh look professional. I find that fried kibbeh

are more difficult to make than the stewed ones, its a matter of taste. Do you use ground lamb or beef in the shell?

The fried kibbeh is usually attributed to the Syrians or Lebanese but they also have stewed versions as I found out from the book Aromas of Aleppo (Poopa dweck)


Cheers, Sarah

http://sarahmelamed.com/

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Do you make your kubba with semolina (or perhaps farina?). Beet kubba is my favorite type, I make it sweet and sour and it is just beautiful.

We use semolina, # 2 to be exact (you know how finicky grandmothers can be!). We also make our beet kubba sweet and sour, although I find that beets are so sweet these days that I only need to add the "sour", lemon and lime. It's also my favorite.

Here the celebrity chefs try to gentrify the kubba by adding bread, matza meal, butter and other nontraditional additions. The grandmothers don't like messing around with the authentic kubba. I didn't know until recently but my grandmother used to make the shell using ground rice and meat as a binder (lamb, beef or chicken) and never used semolina in Iraq.


Cheers, Sarah

http://sarahmelamed.com/

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I didn't know until recently but my grandmother used to make the shell using ground rice and meat as a binder (lamb, beef or chicken) and never used semolina in Iraq.

Why do you think that was? Was semolina less available, or was it just a regional preference?

I had never seen stewed kibbeh before--it looks great! Now I'm thinking I should try making it.

Any small-batch recipes you'd recommend?

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images

tomato kubba

gallery_63527_6495_13562.jpg

syrian fried kubba

gallery_63527_6496_64290.jpg

Kurdish kubba with Arum (don't try this at home)

gallery_63527_6496_110461.jpg

A brief introduction to the wonderful world of kubba

kubba is a Middle Eastern dumpling with many names and many variations:

Kubebeh in Egypt

Kubba/kuba in Iraq

Kibbeh in Lebanon and Syria

The gondi dumplings in Iran are a close relative

Fried Kubba

The most well known is the syrian/lebanese fried kibbeh. Versions are also made in Turkey and throughout the Levant, including Egypt.

The shell

The shell is usually maade with burghul/bulgar

(this is wheat that has been parboiled, husked removed and ground to various degree of courseness-best known in tabouleh), lean lamb and onions and flavored with cumin, baharat (middle eastern mixed spice). There are versions that use flour, matza meal or potato as a binder You can also use ground rice instead of burghul. Some add orange peel, nutmeg, and even zaátar to flavor the shell.

The filling

The filling is traditionally fatty lamb, fried onions, pinenuts and parsley. Sometimes yogurt is added to keep it juicy. Pomegranate seeds are occasionally used as well.

Stewed Kubba

Iraqis, Kurds, Turks, Syrians and Armenians all have their own versions and perhaps others as well.

The shell

The shell can consist of either semolina (or farina if not available), ground rice with ground meat such as lamb, beef or chicken, a combination of semolina and fine ground wheat (jereesha). Sometimes matza meal, flour, and bread is added but this is not traditional.

The filling

There is an endless variation but I use two main types

1. ground beef, chopped celery leaves, chopped onions,

2. fried onions (deep golden brown) and fried beef or lamb.

The soup

The most common soup (for me) is tomato based with vegetable additions such as pumpkin, okra, zucchini and celery. Another common soup consists of swisss chard (beet leaves), green onions and celery. Again I can go on forever.

Besides the stewed and the fried, there is the baked kubba and the raw kubba. Sizes range from small ovals, to pita-sized discs. There is even a turkish vegetarian version using red lentils

I will post my recipes in another post as this one is running a bit long

Sarah

www.zarifa.co.il


Cheers, Sarah

http://sarahmelamed.com/

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I didn't know until recently but my grandmother used to make the shell using ground rice and meat as a binder (lamb, beef or chicken) and never used semolina in Iraq.

Why do you think that was? Was semolina less available, or was it just a regional preference?

I had never seen stewed kibbeh before--it looks great! Now I'm thinking I should try making it.

Any small-batch recipes you'd recommend?

My grandmother comes from a village in Iraq near the Iranian border so they were

influenced by Persian food. The Persian have a stewed dumpling called Gondi made with rice (The most wellknown Gondi is the chickpea flour one).


Cheers, Sarah

http://sarahmelamed.com/

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I didn't know until recently but my grandmother used to make the shell using ground rice and meat as a binder (lamb, beef or chicken) and never used semolina in Iraq.

Yes, this is the way they used to do it. This explains why my grandmother taught me to use a bit of meat in the semolina mixture! The semolina seems to form a nice workable paste on its own, so I wonder if it is necessary, really, but I do it anyway to honor tradition. Do you add meat when using semolina?

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Fried kibbeh is pretty common in Lebanese restaurants in my part of the world. But I've never seen stewed or soup kubba. (And honestly, I know very little about Kurdish or Iraqi cooking, in general; I'd love to know more.) Do you have a recipe for the tomato kubba? They look wonderful!

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I didn't know until recently but my grandmother used to make the shell using ground rice and meat as a binder (lamb, beef or chicken) and never used semolina in Iraq.

Yes, this is the way they used to do it. This explains why my grandmother taught me to use a bit of meat in the semolina mixture! The semolina seems to form a nice workable paste on its own, so I wonder if it is necessary, really, but I do it anyway to honor tradition. Do you add meat when using semolina?

I have relatives who combine semolina or jereesha and ground meat, either chicken or beef (they come from near Mosul). Syrians (according Aromas of Aleppo) make their stewed kibbeh with ground meat and rice. It would be interesting to know if your grandmother has any Syrian connections. There's lots of overlapping influences and after 60 years its difficult to pinpoint the origin of any one recipe although I strive for that. Its fun culinary anthropology for me.


Cheers, Sarah

http://sarahmelamed.com/

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Fried kibbeh is pretty common in Lebanese restaurants in my part of the world.  But I've never seen stewed or soup kubba.  (And honestly, I know very little about Kurdish or Iraqi cooking, in general; I'd love to know more.)  Do you have a recipe for the tomato kubba?  They look wonderful!

I have an introduction to Kubba above

Here is a recipe, it is not tweeked but presentable. Sorry for the metric

Tomato Hamousta

This recipe is from my grandmother who comes from Northern Iraq. It is a bit different than the one pictured. Hamousta means sour so plenty of lemon juice needs to be used to make an authentic tasting kubba. This isn't a strong tasting soup but I like it that way.

Makes about 20-24 kubba

Meat filling

1/3 teaspoon baharat spice (or cinnamin)

300 grams ground meat (traditionally mince by hand)

½ minced onion

25 grams (1/4 cup) finely chopped celery leaves

Filling

Combine all the ingredients for the filling. Mix well.

Soup

8 cups chicken stock or water (if using water add some chicken bones for flavour!)

4-5 tomatoes, skin removed, finely chopped or grated (or liquefy them in the food processor, skin and all)

3 tablespoons tomato paste or 50 grams

1 onion, chopped

1-2 celery sticks, roughly chopped

1 bay leaf (my addition)

salt/pepper

1 lemon, juice or citric acid

½ teaspoon baharat

Salt/pepper

300 grams pumpkin and/or summer squash, cut into large cubes

Soup

Fry onion only until translucent

Add a few tablespoons of tomato paste and fry to release the flavour, add the tomatoes, chicken stock and cook for about 40 minutes or until the tomatoes have blended into the stock, add pumpkin at the last 20 minutes since it softens quickly. Add lemon juice.

There needs to be enough soup for the kubba to float around freely otherwise they will stick. Add more stock if necessary

Shell

2 cups semolina flour

3/4 cup water

1 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients until a dough is formed.

The dough tends to dry out quickly so it best to do one cup at a time. When using uncooked meat it is easier to make the kubba when the dough is more on the soft side.

Making the kubba

Take a piece of dough the size of a walnut, shape the dough into a ball and with your thumb make a hole for the stuffing. If the dough is soft just push the meat into it and roll the dough around it. For every piece of dough try stuffing with about the same volume of meat. The sides of the shell should be thin, as the dough will expand in the soup. A bowl of water is useful to dip your hands in to keep the dough from sticking. When the soup is boiling add the kubba mix gently with a spoon to make sure they don't stick to the bottom of the pot. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the kubba begin to float. Remember the kubba will disintegrate if cooked too long. Uncooked stuffed kubba can be frozen. To freeze put a tray of kubba in the freezer until frozen to the touch. Take them out and put them in a freezer bag.

Variation:

used for the pictured tomato kubba

For the filling fry one onion until it is very golden brown. Add the ground meat and fry it while breaking lumps with a fork and it has changed colors. Continue cooking until it is well browned. The soup and dough is the same. Its more difficult to stuff with cooked filling.


Cheers, Sarah

http://sarahmelamed.com/

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I am less skilled at soup kibbeh but will keep trying

wow, I am very impressed, those kibbeh look professional. I find that fried kibbeh

are more difficult to make than the stewed ones, its a matter of taste. Do you use ground lamb or beef in the shell?

The fried kibbeh is usually attributed to the Syrians or Lebanese but they also have stewed versions as I found out from the book Aromas of Aleppo (Poopa dweck)

Melamed, for the fried kibbeh I use a recipe like the one in Aromas of Aleppo. I am a Syrian Jew as is Poopa Dweck. As far as I can tell from multiple Syrian Jewish cookbooks and my own family's recipes we don't use meat in the shell of the fried kibbeh. The shell is bulgur and flour. As such these will not stand up to liquid

The soup kibbeh, i.e. kibbeh hamda are made with very lean meat, ground 3 times and ground rice, I use cream of rice, for the shell. I just haven't had enough experience with the texture of this shell and find that they crack up on me when trying to fill them. I guess I always strive for a very thin shell like my Grandmother made. Same with the fried. The thinner the better.

For what ever reason we didn't use lamb for kibbeh, always beef. Maybe a availability issue in the south were I live.

Here the celebrity chefs try to gentrify the kubba by adding bread, matza meal, butter and other nontraditional additions.

The only time we use matza meal in kibbeh is on Passover.

Your photos have given me the bug to make some kibbeh/kubba. Yours look awesome.

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Interesting, My Aunt, who is Syrian, also makes the fried Kibbeh without meat. Are the meat ones from Lebanon or Egypt? Both Wolfert and Claudia Roden have meat in their fried Kibbeh. The Israeli Arabs (I have two cookbooks) use meat in their shell. One cookbooks adds orange peel, should try that. Lots of variations. As for the lamb, most Israelis don't bother with the lamb because it is difficult to come by, both the baladi and merino.

My grandmother soaks whole rice in water for a few hours, grinds it up with chicken meat and uses that for the shell. For every 1kg of rice about 750 grams chicken meat if I remember correctly.

Delicious in all its variations!


Cheers, Sarah

http://sarahmelamed.com/

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I didn't know until recently but my grandmother used to make the shell using ground rice and meat as a binder (lamb, beef or chicken) and never used semolina in Iraq.

Yes, this is the way they used to do it. This explains why my grandmother taught me to use a bit of meat in the semolina mixture! The semolina seems to form a nice workable paste on its own, so I wonder if it is necessary, really, but I do it anyway to honor tradition. Do you add meat when using semolina?

I have relatives who combine semolina or jereesha and ground meat, either chicken or beef (they come from near Mosul). Syrians (according Aromas of Aleppo) make their stewed kibbeh with ground meat and rice. It would be interesting to know if your grandmother has any Syrian connections. There's lots of overlapping influences and after 60 years its difficult to pinpoint the origin of any one recipe although I strive for that. Its fun culinary anthropology for me.

I wouldn't say she has any Syrian connections, in fact she learned all her cooking from her cook in Iran (where she lived after being married) who himself had Iraqi ancestry. You could certainly find a lot of culinary anthropological stories in my family! She tells me he used to make the shell with either semolina or rice back then.

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Lovely photos. A lot of foreign kibbis' to me. :blink: We usually start with Raw Kibbi, and with what is left over we make Kibbi derivatives. One is fried Kibbi patties, sometimes stuffed with a meat/pine nut filling, they look like Shaya's potato kibbis (which look great, do they taste like Sheppard's pie?).

If there are lots of leftovers we make Kibbi b'Laban.

Another dish I enjoy is Kibbi b'Saniyeh.

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Lovely photos. A lot of foreign kibbis' to me. :blink: We usually start with Raw Kibbi, and with what is left over we make Kibbi derivatives. One is fried Kibbi patties, sometimes stuffed with a meat/pine nut filling, they look like Shaya's potato kibbis (which look great, do they taste like Sheppard's pie?).

If there are lots of leftovers we make Kibbi b'Laban.

Another dish I enjoy is Kibbi b'Saniyeh.

Thanks for the links. I have never eaten raw kibbeh because its difficult to find high quality meat for that and I am afraid to die of salmonella poisoning or get mad cow disease, although I have never heard of that ever happening. Perhaps I will go to Jaffa, because there is a great butchershop there called Hanawi.

I sometimes make flat discs from semolina and ground crack wheat (jereesha) stuffed with meat, raisons and pinenuts (sort of like Shaya's), I boil them until they float then fry them until they turn golden brown. Both these and Shaya's potato ones are Iraqi. I have never tasted Sheppard''s pie, is that something exotic :wink: ?


Cheers, Sarah

http://sarahmelamed.com/

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Hmmm, ChefCrash, shepherd's pie? The only memory I have of that is from my school lunches, and if I recall correctly the overall effect is rather soft and mushy. The kubba patata are nice and crispy with a soft interior shell, and the beef is not compact but is loose. So I would have to say no to your question!

They are, I have to say, one of my favorite things to eat at lunchtime.

p.s. I made some kubba this morning, and I will put together my photos and post as soon as I can!


Edited by Shaya (log)

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I made Kebba Shwendar this morning. Here is the process:

Filling Mixture

gallery_41870_2503_236165.jpg

Shell Mixture

gallery_41870_2503_42521.jpg

Forming Kubba

gallery_41870_2503_60740.jpg

Completed Kubba - for 1lb of very lean organic meat, I got 25 kubba; these go into the freezer for a rest while I prepare the soup

gallery_41870_2503_111230.jpg

Sauteing onion, tomato paste, turmeric

gallery_41870_2503_4896.jpg

Simmering

gallery_41870_2503_168566.jpg

Addition of Beets, lemon, lime, touch of sugar

gallery_41870_2503_185294.jpg

Ready to Serve - actually I made them for company for tomorrow night. Grandma would be proud. :smile: Of course I will serve them with basmati, made persian style, probably with saffron

gallery_41870_2503_137763.jpg

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Shaya! you would make my grandmother proud as well even if she doesn't make beet kubba. That looks good!

That's more or less how I make it as far as I can see although I don't use turmeric.

From searching Hebrew recipes on the internet I saw that many of the recipes use celery leaves in the filling and stems in the soup, but parsley and cilantro are also widely used. Celery is the main herb flavoring in the kurdish kubba soups so that's what I am used to. There is also the garlic issue, some people would never dream of putting garlic in this dish, saying its not authentic. My grandmother who comes from a village near the Iranian border uses no garlic at all in her cooking. Is that a Persian influence?

I see you use a very soft dough, which I think is the easiest when using raw meat.

I would like to make the potato kubba, any tips?


Cheers, Sarah

http://sarahmelamed.com/

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Thanks, Melamed. I did call my grandmother and tell her about our discussions regarding one of her favorite topics here on eGullet. She hasn't been able to cook at all for the last 3 years due to failing eyesight. Needless to say she misses it terribly.

So Melamed, you really are reading my mind on so many levels. Firstly, funny you should mention the celery leaves. By chance, at the same time this morning, I decided to make a persian stew made with celery and veal, called Khoresht-e Karafs. I had all the celery leaves nicely chopped and set aside to add at the last minute. Anyhow in my confusion I added the leaves to the wrong pot, right atop the kubba; I took some out but left some in, realizing they had a home there after all. If you look closely at the final photo you can see a hint of them.

Here is a photo of the stew, it has lots of mint in it (I will add more after serving the kids their portions).

gallery_41870_2503_271977.jpg

I will pm you with some info about the kubba patata.

Secondly, regarding the topic of garlic. You are probably the first person whose grandmother falls in the same camp as mine, that is, no garlic, no how, no way. I always knew that she did not care for garlic, nor did my mom and dad, but I have never been clear on what the rest of their friends did. My grandmother says the Iranians she knows (and knew when she lived in Iran) all use garlic, and so do the Iraquis in our family. She says she is the one who doesn't use any. So here you have it. I also don't use any garlic when I cook "our" food, but I cook a lot of Italian food and use garlic all the time, although sparingly, and I usually just smash it so I can pull it out during cooking. Family traditions die hard, I guess :biggrin:

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