During Ramadan just after sunset hungry clients enter the restaurants in swarms and one can hardly find a place. Two hours later though one can have these places all for oneself – and also the exhausted staff: Restaurant «Al-Khwali» on Maazanet al_Shahim in the Old City of Damascus.
Stuffed Bulgur Lamb Dumplings
Kibbeh (or kebbeh) can be found throughout the Near East – but the true masters of these meat dumplings reside in Damascus. A speechless but hungry Hektor Maille discovered this for himself when he sat down for a meal in the Syrian capital. The kibbeh he was served there, were 1001 nights rolled into a single dumpling – it seemed to him that each magnificent and succulent bready little ball was filled with not just minced meat but with all the longings, as it were, of a culinary fantasy of the Orient. Of course, we cannot compete with the kibbeh-competence of the kitchens of Damascus – but we can provide a recipe that can, in our opinion, lead to a reasonably satisfactory result.
400 g bulgur (if possible a finely crushed type of)
3 teaspoons all spice
2 teaspoons marjoram, dried
1 stick cinnamon (about 6 g)
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 heaped teaspoon salt
2 onions, roughly chopped
400 g lamb meat without bones (best ist a piece from the gigot oder shoulder) – ask your butcher to pass it two times trough one of these wonderful chilled meat-grinders
For the Filling:
2 x 1 tablespoon olive oil
40 g pine nuts
1 teaspoon all spice
1 smaller piece of cinnamon (2g)
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons raisins
1 teaspoon sumach
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons rape seed oil
Kibbeh dough in Damascus is, in principle, spiced dough made of bulgur wheat, minced lamb and onions. There are various stony ways in which to knead these ingredients into dough (more).
1. Make a ball the size of an ice-cream scoop with lightly moistened fingers.
2. Make a deep hole in the ball with one finger.
3. Stuff some filling in the hole.
4. Close the opening of the hole carefully and smoothen with a drop of water.
5. The kibbeh can have the form of a scoop, an egg, a torpedo…
6. Heat olive oil and rapeseed oil in a frying pan and fry the kibbeh until it is evenly brown on all sides.
7. Kibbeh can be served with salad such as tabouleh and moutabal or with hummus or yoghurt sauce.
More about the travel adventure of Secret Agent Hektor Maille:
Even if he is speechless while he journeys through Syria, Hektor Maille is not devoid of appetite. Here are three delicacies that the secret agent savours in the wonderful restaurants of Damascus – after sunset, naturally, because it is the holy time of Ramadan:
First Publication: 12-8-2010
Modifications: 26-1-2011, 20-6-2011, 15-11-2011, 18-12-2011