Find it fast!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Vegan Lentil Kibbeh

I felt like I hit the jackpot when this recipe worked out. It was a complete gamble to toss out the main ingredient in kibbeh and expect success, but it paid off! Kibbeh is a VERY traditional Syrian dish (other regions in the Middle East also have their versions) and there are too many variations to list. Typically the main ingredients in kibbeh are MEAT, bulgur and onion. These 3 ingredients are minced together with simple seasonings using a meat grinder to achieve a smooth dough. This outer dough is formed into a football shape, stuffed with cooked ground beef, onions and nuts then fried. If you haven't had authentic kibbeh I urge you to do so, its delicious! Personally I rarely make this version of kibbeh because its ridiculously time consuming, requires special equipment, makes a huge mess, shaping is difficult, and it must be deep fried. All of these are huge no-no's for I've simplified the process and begun making kibbeh kabobs (also known as kibbeh al-siekh), essentially the outer shell of the kibbeh without the filling and frying process. From that recipe this new vegan kibbeh has emerged.

This is a meat-less kibbeh packed with fiber, protein and flavor. There is no fat added to the mix, but you'd never guess that while eating it! I love making it because all the ingredients are pantry staples, it comes together quickly and my family loves it. My mom (who is famous for her amazing varieties of kibbeh) couldn't believe this didn't have meat it in, that's how close the flavor and texture is!

This kibbeh serves many purposes for me. I'll make a batch and serve it for dinner then freeze the rest (it reheats BEAUTIFULLY). I'll make the mix a day or two ahead and bake them up for a dinner party. I take them along to picnics because they are as good at room temperature as they are hot, and there is no worry about any of the ingredients being out for too long (a perk of a vegan recipe even for those who eat meats and dairy). This kibbeh is the perfect snack on the go because it doesn't make a mess and keeps you feeling full for a while.

Try this with a side of babbaganoush, lentil soup, cucumber yogurt sauce, and a veggie platter loaded with tomatoes, thinly sliced lemon wedges, red onion, parsley and pickles. I have another fabulous idea for you: VEGGIE BURGERS! Trust me on this one. Get mini-pitas or buns and fill them with a green, a kibbeh patty, tomato, red onion, lemon slices and cucumber yogurt sauce. Amazingness and the absolute perfect lunch.

Yields 16 kibbeh patties

-1 cup red lentils
-3/4 cup fine bulgur (#1)
-1 cup water
-1/2 cup onion (1/2 of a large onion)
-2 tablespoons red pepper paste
-1 1/2 teaspoons all spice
-2 teaspoons ground coriander
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1 teaspoon salt (to start, adding 1/2 teaspoon more if needed...which I usually do)
-1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

optional: vegetable oil for baking

To make
-Fill a medium sized pot with water. Rinse the lentils in a strainer and place in pot of water. Bring to a boil on high heat, watching to make sure the foam of your lentils doesn't boil over in the pot.  Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Drain the extra liquid in a strainer.
-While the lentils are cooking place the bulgur with 1 cup water in a medium sized bowl and let soak.
-In a food processor, process the onion until it is finely minced. Add the drained cooked lentils, the soaked bulgur, red pepper paste, all spice, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper and process using the pulse setting until everything is blended together. Taste the mixture and adjust salt if needed.
-Place the food processor bowl in the fridge to firm the mixture up. This will help you shape them into patties, but if you are short on time it is not critical.
-Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (I really recommend this so the patties don't stick) or foil and pre-heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
-Lightly wet your hands to form the patties. This will prevent the mixture from sticking to your hands as you work. Take 2 tablespoons of kibbeh mixture and shape into round patties, about 1/4 inch thick and 2 inches wide. Repeat the process until mix is finished. Place kibbeh patties on baking sheet and OPTIONALLY brush each side with vegetable oil (I usually skip this but it does make the kibbeh a little more crispy.
-Bake on the middle rack of pre-heated oven for 20-30 minutes, flipping halfway through until crisped to your liking.**Alternatively you can cook these on a stove top in a skillet with some oil.
-Serve with desired dipping sauce and sliced veggies.

I'd love to connect with you! Stay updated on the latest posts through Facebook or follow savvy_chef on Instagram. Tag #savvychef with your re-creations!


  1. You saved dinner last night! Lucky for me I always have bulgur and lentils, and of course onions lol, so I mixed this together before I got my kids and shapped them after and baked. YUM. We LOVED IT. My little ones at 4 each. Unfortunately they were dipping theirs in ketchup as they do literally everything they eat, but I expected that haha. I ate mine like a regular person with your cucumber yogurt sauce recipe and the flavors were perfect together

  2. Took this to a work potluck. I had to prepare it the night before and put it in the fridge, and by the time we ate it the next day it was at room temperature. I made them mini and ended up with about 40 patties. NO LEFTOVERS! My coworkers were seeking me out to get the recipe. I served it with your tzatziki sauce recipe and next time I'm going to try it for dinner with the lentil soup.

  3. I love your photos! The colors pop out through the screen and make me wish I was there eating this now. Prepped the mix last night to cook today and I was sneaking a couple bites here and there, sooo yummy! I'm serving with the lentil soup recipe from this blog too. Can't wait

  4. Hi, I'm 10 years old and I use a lot of the recipes here. I made this with my mom and we dipped them in yogurt. Very good, thank u savvychef

  5. This recipe is INCREDIBLE. The ingredients are always in my pantry and it's so healthy and yummy- how can anyone not love it?! Huge hit for my husband and I. We absolutely love how light it is... We've been trying to cut back on our meat intake and this recipe left us not missing meat one bit :) One batch is a lot for us, so what I do is freeze it. Perfect for a quick dinner.