Raw kibbeh nayeh (Lebanese raw meat kibbeh) is an iconic dish cherished by millions of Lebanese people. I remember how my grandma would have it on the table during Sunday family lunches. It was always the star dish that everyone couldn't wait to have with a drizzle of olive oil and crunchy white onions. If you'd like a vegan equivalent of kibbeh nayeh, check out this potato kibbeh (kibbet batata).
What I Love About This Recipe
I used to think kibbeh nayeh was difficult to make but when I actually made it for the first time I was surprised that it turned out to be super easy to whip up. All you need is some good-quality meat, bulgur, and a few spices and you'll be on your way to creating the most incredible dish ever.
Ingredients You'll Need:
- Raw lamb or veal meat: The meat has to be fresh and bought from a butcher you trust 100 percent.
- Fine bulgur wheat: This is a key ingredient for this recipe. Make sure you don't use coarse bulgur grains because that will affect the kibbe's texture. When buying bulgar wheat at the store, look for the fine bulgar wheat. Also, bulgar wheat needs to be soaked in water for about 1 hour before using in this recipe.
- Onion: Finely chopped onions add the best flavor to this dish.
- Allspice: I don't use too much of any spice in this dish because I always aim to avoid overpowering the meat flavor. So a little goes a long way.
- Seven spices: Just a dash of this too.
- White pepper: A teeny bit to add a little bit of heat.
- Ground nutmeg: Ground a little bit of this fresh.
- Olive oil: Adds the most brilliant flavor to this dish. Make sure to use a high-quality brand.
Is Kibbeh Nayeh Safe To Eat?
Well, I am sure most health organizations will tell you to avoid consuming raw meat. However, the Lebanese have a few tricks to stay safe and healthy when enjoying this festive raw meat dish. Here they are:
- The number one rule is that you have to buy the meat you're going to use for this recipe from a butcher you trust. Why? Because they're going to give you the best quality meat. They'll also ensure that they grind it on completely clean blades (this is to avoid cross contamination with any other fresh meat).
- According to my grandma (who has been cooking and eating kibbeh nayeh for over 60 years) an even better way to make sure your meat is 100 percent safe for consumption is to buy it fresh from the butcher but ask them not to grind it. You can then go ahead and do that at home.
- Make sure you buy the meat you're using for this recipe on the same day you're going to make it. It's very important for the meat to be fresh. Most butchers will only sell you meat for kibbeh nayeh to order and this is to ensure that they grind it clean and fresh.
Every area in Lebanon has its own variation of kibbeh nayeh. One version that comes from South Lebanon includes a strong taste of cumin. Another features some dried red chili powder. One additional way of making raw kibbeh is adding fresh mint and basil leaves when grinding the meat.
There are also areas that use different techniques to bring the dish together. There are two main ways to grind the meat for kibbeh nayeh. One is the traditional way used by our grandparents. This process involves hand beating the meat using a pestle and mortar. The other is to use a good food processor.
How To Decorate This Dish
There's a special way kibbeh nayeh is decorated before it's served. We use a fork to make lines in it. You can do these vertically, horizontally, or both. Then drizzle the dish with olive oil which is going to flow right in these lines and form a mesmeric sight. Top the plate with fresh greens, green onions, or mint leaves if you have these on hand.
How To Eat Raw Kibbeh
I always serve raw kibbeh with fresh vegetables like mint leaves, crunchy white onions, green onions, and cucumbers. There's just something about the taste of raw meat with crunchy vegetables. In my family, pita bread is a must with raw kibbeh, so let me tell you how it's done: Scoop the raw meat using the bread, drizzle it with olive oil and top it with a crunchy veggie. There you go, you just hit the jackpot.
Also, I make sure to use the best quality olive oil whenever I make kibbeh nayeh. This is so important and affects how the taste turns out so make sure you pick well.