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Kurdish Kibbeh

Kibbeh is another kind of meatball, cooked inside a shell of cracked wheat or bulgur, partially cooked cracked wheat. Kibbeh is eaten in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Kurdistan. What makes the Kurdish version different is pomegranate seeds. They add an interesting sour note and an attractive reddish-brown color to the stew. Pomegranates are in season only in the fall; when not in season, replace with 1/2 cup pine nuts (pignolis).

ingredients

serves 4
1 pound lean ground lamb
1 cup bulgur
1 cup semolina
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 ounces koshered lamb's liver
2 cups oil
2 onions, chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup pomegranate seeds

method

1. To make the kibbeh shells, place 4 ounces of the meat in a blender or food processor and process until it is a paste. Set aside.

2. Rinse the bulgur in cold water and squeeze it dry. Place bulgur in a blender or food processor and add the meat paste and the semolina. Process until the mixture resembles a firm dough. If it does not adhere well, add a few drops of water. Transfer mixture to a bowl and chill for 1 hour while you make the filling.

3. Puree the remaining meat with the liver in a blender or food processor. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a skillet over high heat and cook the onions until transparent, about 3 or 4 minutes.

4. Add the raisins and meat, and cook until lightly browned, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in the pomegranate seeds.

5. To assemble the kibbeh, knead the dough for 5 minutes. Take a walnut-size piece of the dough and shape it into a ball.

6. Flatten the ball and poke your finger into it, gradually hollowing out a cavity and shaping the dough into a torpedo shape.

7. Fill the cavity with about a tablespoon of the stuffing mixture and work the dough over the hole to close it. Continue to assemble the kibbeh. When all have been assembled, arrange on a dish and chill for 1 hour.

8. Heat the remainder of the oil in a deep-fryer until it registers 375°F on a thermometer or a cube of bread browns in 60 seconds. Drop in the kibbeh, a few at a time. Deep-fry until golden-brown, about 10 minutes, then drain on absorbent paper. Keep warm as you continue to cook kibbeh.

9. Serve with saffron or white rice, perhaps accompanied by sauteed peppers.

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