Fried kibbeh raas (nabulsi kibbeh)
Place of originSyria, Armenia, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Turkey
Region or stateLevant, Mesopotamia, Caucasus, East Mediterranean
Serving temperatureHot (or raw as Kibbeh nayyeh)
Main ingredientsFinely ground meat, cracked wheat (bulgur), and Levantine spices

Kibbeh (/ˈkɪbi/, also kubba and other spellings; Arabic: كبة, romanizedkibba) is a popular dish in the Levant based on spiced lean ground meat and bulgur wheat. Kibbeh is considered to be a national dish of Lebanon and Syria.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

In Levantine cuisine, kibbeh is made by pounding bulgur wheat together with meat into a fine paste and forming it into ovoid shapes, with toasted pine nuts and spices. It may also be layered and cooked on a tray, deep-fried, grilled, or served raw.[7] The Syrian city of Aleppo can lay claim to at least 17 types of Kibbeh.[8] In Mesopotamian cuisine, versions with rice or farina are found.[9]

Outside of Syria,[10] versions are found in Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, the Persian Gulf, Armenia, and Turkey,[4] and among Assyrian people.[11] It is also found throughout Latin American countries that received substantial numbers of immigrants from the Levant during the late 19th and early 20th centuries,[12] as well as parts of North America.[13]


The word kibbeh first appeared in ancient biblical text, meaning “tent” or “tarp”. Later on the word took on a new meaning in Aramaic as kababa, which means "a covering".[14] This is similar to the lamb and bulgur top and bottom that encases, or covers, a layer of lamb.[citation needed]



In Levantine cuisine, a variety of dishes made with bulgur (cracked wheat) and minced lamb are called kibbeh. Aleppo is famous for having more than 17 different types.[15] These include kibbeh prepared with sumac (kibbe sumāqiyye), yogurt (kibbe labaniyye), quince (kibbe safarjaliyye), lemon juice (kibbe ḥāmḍa), pomegranate sauce, cherry sauce, and other varieties, such as the "disk" kibbeh (kibbe arāṣ), the "plate" kibbeh (kibbe biṣfīḥa or kibbe bṣēniyye) and the raw kibbeh (kibbeh nayyeh).

Kibbeh nayyeh

Kibbeh nayyeh is a raw dish made from a mixture of bulgur, very finely minced lamb or beef similar to steak tartare, and Levantine spices, served on a platter, frequently as part of a meze in Lebanon and Syria, garnished with mint leaves and olive oil, and served with green onions or scallions, green hot peppers, and pita/pocket bread or markouk bread.[3] Because kibbeh nayyeh is raw, it requires high-quality meat to prepare and has been seen as a traditional way to honor guests.[4]

A Syrian soup known as kubbi kishk consists of kubbi "torpedoes" or "footballs" in a yogurt (kishk) and butter broth with stewed cabbage leaves. Another soup, known as kibbeh hamda, consists of chicken stock with vegetables (usually leeks, celery, turnips and courgettes), lemon juice and garlic, with small kibbeh made with ground rice as dumplings.[16] In the Syrian Jewish diaspora this is popular both at Pesach and as the pre-fast meal on the day before Yom Kippur.[17]


Kubba Mosul from Iraq is flat and round like a disc.[4] Kubba halab is an Iraqi version of kibbeh created with a rice crust and named after the largest city in Syria, Aleppo. Kubbat Shorba is an Iraqi and Kurdish version prepared as a stew, commonly made with turnips and chard in a tomato-based stew. It is often served with arak and various salads.[18]

Among Kurdish Jews, there is a kubba soup flavored with aromatic thyme leaves soup during winter time.[19]

Latin America


Fried quibe (Brazil)

Brazilian quibe/kibe, is sometimes stuffed with catupiry or requeijão, a sauce resembling ricotta and cream cheese. Most Brazilian quibe uses only ground beef, but other variations use tahini, carne de soja (texturized soy protein), seitan (Japanese wheat gluten-based meat substitute) or tofu (soybean curd) as stuffing.[citation needed]

In the Brazilian state of Acre, a variation of quibe called quibe de arroz (Rice kibbeh) is made with a rice flour breading. It was created by Arab immigrants to Brazil who didn't have access to wheat in the remote Amazon region of Brazil.[20]


On Colombia's Caribbean coast, the most local variations of the dish use ground beef instead of lamb, but the original recipe, or one with mixture of beef and lamb, can be found served by the large Lebanese and Syrian population of the zone.[21] The dish has acquired almost vernacular presence and is frequently served in social occasions at both Arab and non-Arab households. When served as an adopted local dish, it is offered often as a starter along with other regional delicacies, including empanadas, deditos and carimañolas.[22]


Some regional Syrian cuisine and Lebanese cuisines combine kibbeh with elements taken from Latin American cuisine, for example, it is typical of Syrian Mexicans in Mexico to eat the traditional kibbeh with salsa verde.[23]

See also


  1. ^ "Top 10 National Dishes -- National Geographic". Travel. 2011-09-13. Archived from the original on October 14, 2016. Retrieved 2020-08-08.
  2. ^ George, Maria. Mediterranean Cuisine: Flavors for a Healthier You, Christian Faith Publishing, Inc. 2019, Page 301
  3. ^ a b Marks, Gil (17 November 2010). Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. HMH. ISBN 978-0-544-18631-6 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ a b c d Perry, Charles (2014). Davidson, Alan (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 244, 444–445. ISBN 978-0191040726.
  5. ^ Howell, Sally (2000). Arab Detroit: From Margin to Mainstream. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 9780814328125 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ Helou, Anissa (4 October 2018). Feast: Food of the Islamic World. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781526605566 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ Perry, Charles PerryCharles (2006), Jaine, Tom (ed.), "kibbeh", The Oxford Companion to Food, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/acref/9780192806819.001.0001, ISBN 978-0-19-280681-9, retrieved 2021-02-11
  8. ^ Khalaf, Hala (2018-08-09). "A guide to kibbeh". The National. Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  9. ^ Annia Ciezadlo (2012). Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War. Simon and Schuster. p. 361. ISBN 978-1-4391-5753-4.
  10. ^ "Top 10 National Dishes -- National Geographic". Travel. 2011-09-13. Archived from the original on October 14, 2016. Retrieved 2020-08-08.
  11. ^ Edelstein, Sari (2010). Food, Cuisine, and Cultural Competency for Culinary, Hospitality, and Nutrition Professionals. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. p. 594. ISBN 9781449618117.
  12. ^ Brown, Ellen (6 October 2020). Meatballs: The Ultimate Cookbook. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781646430147.
  13. ^ "Kibbe at the Crossroads: A Lebanese Kitchen Story". Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  14. ^ hersh (2023-09-19). "Kubbeh, Kibbeh and Kebabs: What's In A Name?". Retrieved 2023-11-24.
  15. ^ "NPR web: Food Lovers Discover The Joys Of Aleppo". NPR.
  16. ^ Roden, Claudia (March 1974). A Book of Middle Eastern Food. Random House - Vintage Books. pp. 232–233. ISBN 0-394-71948-4. OCLC 622578 – via Internet Archive.
  17. ^ Poopa Dweck (2011). Aromas of Aleppo. Harper Collins. p. 97. ISBN 9780062042644.
  18. ^ "An Iraqi-Kurdish-Israeli Dumpling Soup Makes Its Way To America". NPR.
  19. ^ אדוני רוצה עוד קובה? הצצה למטבח הכורדי
  20. ^ De Nossa, Gabrielli Menezes (14 June 2021). "Culinária do Acre esbanja identidade e orgulho em cada prato; conheça" [Acre's cuisine exudes identity and pride in every dish; get to know it]. (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 2024-02-20.
  21. ^ Hourani, Albert. The Lebanese and the World A Century of Emigration, University of Virginia, 1992, Page 365
  22. ^ Cepeda, María Elena. Musical imagiNation : U.S.-Colombian identity and the Latin music boom. ISBN 9780814772904. OCLC 967261642.
  23. ^ Ayora-Diaz, Steffan Igor (7 February 2019). Taste, Politics, and Identities in Mexican Food. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-1-350-06668-7 – via Google Books.