Lebanese Kibbeh


        2 1/2 cups cubed tender lamb
        2 cups burghul (crushed wheat)
        2 medium sized onions
        2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
        1/2 tsp. pepper
        Ice water
Kibbeh is virtually the national dish of Lebanon and to call it a meat loaf does not quite raise it to the heights it deserves. Its traditional preparation is dramatic. It requires a stone mortar and a heavy pestle called the jorn and modaqqa. The meat is pounded with rhythmic motions until it is smooth and pasty. All the neighborhood knows the sound of kibbeh in the making.

Select lamb from loin of the animal. Pound the cubed meat with a teaspoon of salt in a stone mortar with a wooden mallet. Remove meat from mortar when it becomes pasty. Now pound onion with a teaspoon of salt and the pepper until it is reduced to a pulp. Combine meat and onion and pound together until very smooth. Wash burghul well in running water but do this quickly so that it does not soften. Press to remove water. Knead burghul and meat with the hands. Pound together in mortar. Add salt to taste. Dip mallet in ice water occasionally to keep meat moist and smooth. Properly prepared kibbeh must be pounded at least an hour. Then it is ready to be eaten as it is, or cooked in a variety of ways.

Preparation time may be shortened considerably by grinding meat several times through fine blade of meat grinder. Grind onion twice. Grind onions with meat once. Combine washed burghul with meat-onion mixture. Knead well, seasoning with salt and pepper. Grind this mixture three times adding a tablespoon of ice water to keep it smooth.

(From Food from the Arab World Marie Karam Khayat and Margaret Clark Keatinge, Khayat's, Beirut 1959)