Jan. 26, 2003 – The Virgin Islands is an international melting pot of cuisines. One dish enjoyed by folks from the Middle East is kibbeh. These savory, crunchy-fried golf-ball-sized rounds made of ground lamb and cracked wheat may perhaps be likened to island-style meatballs.
There are countless variations of kibbeh found throughout the Middle East. The most common is a mixture of fine cracked wheat, grated onion and ground lamb pounded to a paste. Eaten raw, this dish is called kibbeh nayé. The same paste can be fried or grilled, and that's how we like it.
The following recipe is from Dean Barnes, a 24-year St. Thomas resident who was born in Saudi Arabia when his New Yorker father worked for Aramco, the Arab-American Oil Co.
If you'd like to sample other recipes from local families representing more than a dozen cultures, then purchase the "Multicultural Melee Cookbook." It's available from the Antilles School office for $15. For more information, call the school at 776-1600.
Middle Eastern Kibbeh
1 pound lean lamb, cut into cubes
1 large onion, finely grated
2 cups fine cracked wheat (also called "bulgur")
Oil, for deep-fat frying
2 fresh lemons
Place the lamb in a meat grinder and grind until fine. Grate and pound the onion with salt and pepper. Blend by hand or grind the onion mix and meat together, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of cold water to achieve a soft and smooth texture.
Soak bulgur for 10 minutes, and then quickly squeeze out the moisture. Add to the meat and onion mixture, and knead vigorously by hand. Form into round meatball shapes. Fry in hot oil until crispy and browned. Drain on paper towels. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 360 calories, 20 gms fat (51 percent fat calories), 74 mg cholesterol, 604 mg sodium.
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