“Inspired by a family trip Salma made to Lebanon, this is a celebratory twist on a delicious Lebanese national dish. These mini meaty croquettes are brimming with gorgeous Middle Eastern flavours, and there’s a beautiful hint of sweetness from the dates that really cuts through the spices, adding an extra flavour dimension. ”
In a bowl, cover the bulgur wheat with 200ml of cold water, then leave to soak for about 15 minutes.
Mix the seven-spice ingredients together (it’ll make more than you need, but save the rest in an airtight jar for another day).
For the filling, finely chop the walnuts, destone and roughly chop the dates, and finely chop the top leafy half of the parsley.
Place a large frying pan on a high heat with ½ a tablespoon of olive oil, the minced lamb, pine nuts and walnuts. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until starting to crisp up, stirring occasionally.
Add 2 teaspoons of the seven-spice and the dried herbs, then cook for a further 5 minutes, or until dark golden and gnarly. Leave to cool, then stir through the chopped parsley.
Drain the bulgur (if needed), and mix with the remaining kibbeh dough ingredients and a good pinch of sea salt until it comes together – this will become your outer layer.
Divide the mixture into 16 balls (roughly 50g each). Place one ball on the palm of your hand, then press and flatten into an oval shape, roughly 7cm x 8cm. Place a good pinch of cooled filling into the centre, then mould the dough up and around the filling to seal.
Repeat with the remaining ingredients, then place in the fridge to firm up for around 30 minutes. Now’s a good time to get on with making the Amba sauce and Houmous.
When you’re ready to cook, just under half fill a large sturdy pan with oil – the oil should be 8cm deep, but never fill your pan more than half full – and place on a medium high heat. Use a thermometer to tell when it’s ready (170°C), or add a piece of potato and wait until it turns golden – that’s the sign that it’s ready to go.
Carefully lower one kibbeh into the pan – after 3½ to 4 minutes it should be golden and perfectly cooked through, so take it out of the pan and cut it in half to check your timings – once you know where you stand, you can cook the rest, in batches.
Serve the kibbeh with the houmous and amba sauce. It’s also good with pickled veg, flatbreads and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds and fresh herbs.