Saturday, 25 June 2016

Middle Eastern Sweet Potato Kibbeh

The theme for Refugee Week  for 2016 is Welcome.  Refugee Week is a collective acknowledgement across the world to raise awareness  of the plight of refugees and asylum seekers across the world.   As my blog is a vegetarian food blog my Simple Act was to Cook A Dish from Another Country and try and raise some awareness that way among some of my readers.
Kibbeh is a popular dish from the Middle East, especially in Aleppo in Syria.  It is made from bulgar wheat, meat, onions, spices and then deep fried.   It often comes in torpedo shape croquettes which I have yet to master and many variations.  In Aleppo, Syria there are many varieties including those made with vegetables.  Some of you may remember me mentioning a Middle Eastern cookbook I found at my local library a little while back called Classic Vegetarian Cooking from the Middle East and North Africa (2000) by Habeeb Salloum which shared a a number of Kibber recipes, including one made with Pumpkin.  
Kibbeh is the national dish of many countries in the Middle East where refugees have fled from such as Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria respectively.  In 2011, an estimated 9 million Syrians were forced to flee their homes because of the outbreak of the Civil War.  This is perhaps the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War.

The first time I heard of kibbeh was from a Scottish mature student at the University.   It was in her home on the Southside of Glasgow when she cooked for me that I was  introduced to kibbeh and tabbouleh, tabbouli.  She told me she was of Armenian diaspora. She said her family had come into the UK after the Second World War.  I was completely fascinated as I knew nothing about the Armenian people.  We do forget how many people around us have refugee heritage and ancestry, even the UKIP leader Nigel Farage's ancestors were refugees from Huguenot background fleeing to England from France to escape religious persecution (The Guardian, May 10 2013).  Some of us are able to assimilate and change our names because of our skin colour.  Some of us who have been in this country for decades, born and bred will always be seen as immigrants; 'the Other' because of our skin colour.  
Anyway, it was only after graduating from University that I  attempted to make Kibbeh  from scratch , I have to admit I was not happy with the final dish, it was gritty.  Hence, I am glad to be given the excuse through Refugee Week to make it again. It was much lovelier this time. Its very much like a falafel that you stuff it in a pitta bread and munch.  Enjoy!  I am sharing this recipe with Cook Once Eat Twice hosted by Searching for Spice; and Utterly Scrummy for the No Waste Food Challenge run by Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary

Middle Eastern Sweet Potato Kibbeh
Serves 4 - 6 with accompaniments
150g bulgar wheat
1 large sweet potato, cooked and mashed
1 x 400g can of chickpeas, drained and slightly mashed
6 spring onions, roughly minced
1 onion, minced
2 teaspoons dried mint or fresh equivalent
1 teaspoon Baharat - Arabic Seven Spice(shop bought or home-made) 
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
Salt to taste
100g plain flour
160ml olive oil
Rinse the bulgar wheat and leave it to sit in a sieve while you get on prepping the other ingredients.
In a wide bowl, stir in the mashed sweet potatoes,  squashed chickpeas, minced onion, spring onion, herb, spices, salt and combine well.
Then evenly scatter over the flour and knead for a couple of minutes for it all to come togehter like a dough.  
Transfer and press into a baking dish.  It should be about 1/2 inch thick.
Using a knife, cut the mixture into diamond shapes.
Pour the olive oil over the top of the kibbeh, allowing it to fall into the cut grooves.
Bake for up to an hour, or until the kibbeh is beginning to turn brown on top.
Serve stuffed in a pitta bread with salad and mint yogurt.
Corina, our lovely host for Cook Once Eat Twice was tempted by this Sweet Potato Kibbeh that she made it at home, please check it out here


  1. WE have kibbeh at our local middle eastern shop we go to a lot - but I have never made it - would love to make it some day

    1. I hope you get to make it one day Johanna, just remember not to use the thicker bulgur wheat. I hope to make the recipe again, but with different veg - maybe pumpkin or courgette when the season arrives.

  2. This sounds delicious...Hope you are well today!

    1. To be honest, wish it was the weekend.

  3. I have never had kibbeh but love the sound of it and this certainly is a great recipe to make for refugee week. Thank you for sharing with #CookOnceEatTwice as well.

    1. Thanks Corina, hope you get to try some some day in the not too long distant future.

  4. "Some of us who have been in this country for decades, born and bred will always be seen as immigrants; 'the Other' because of our skin colour."
    Although I'm not sure I have learned enough about different cultures, I do remember learning in school one of the things we should pride ourselves about our country is that it is so diverse and that we have many different people with different backgrounds.
    The kibbeh sounds good! I think it's my favourite dish of all of the ones you have made so far =)

    1. Thanks Kimmy. I am really glad you like it, you can change the veg, I fancies sweet potatoes!

  5. I am loving the sound of this dish, and I just happen to have all of the ingredients on hand! I'll have to make it soon. :) Thank you for sharing with the No Waste Food Challenge, and my apologies for taking so long to come and visit. You've now got a new Instagram follower too! :)

    1. Thanks Elizabeth, no worries about delay, at least you have come by and commented and its always appreciated.


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