Foodways

You Say 'Kubbeh,' I Say 'Kibbeh.' Let's Eat 'Em All Right Now

  • At the Te'amim — or Tastes — cooking camp in Jerusalem, kids dig into a big bowl of kubbeh hamusta, a popular dumpling they learned to make.
    Hide caption
    At the Te'amim — or Tastes — cooking camp in Jerusalem, kids dig into a big bowl of kubbeh hamusta, a popular dumpling they learned to make.
    Emily Harris/NPR
  • Chef Udi Shlomi advises Aviv Raz, 13, on prepping the kubbeh filling. Kubbeh hamusta, which Shlomi says originated in Kurdistan, has a vinegary-lemony taste.
    Hide caption
    Chef Udi Shlomi advises Aviv Raz, 13, on prepping the kubbeh filling. Kubbeh hamusta, which Shlomi says originated in Kurdistan, has a vinegary-lemony taste.
    Emily Harris/NPR
  • Adi Binyamin (left), 14, and Razs chop onions and celery for the kubbeh filling.
    Hide caption
    Adi Binyamin (left), 14, and Razs chop onions and celery for the kubbeh filling.
    Emily Harris/NPR
  • Raz gets her fingertips greasy mixing seasoning into the ground beef.
    Hide caption
    Raz gets her fingertips greasy mixing seasoning into the ground beef.
    Emily Harris/NPR
  • The kubbeh dough is made of a little bulgur and a lot of semolina.
    Hide caption
    The kubbeh dough is made of a little bulgur and a lot of semolina.
    Emily Harris/NPR
  • "Kubbeh dough feels weird!" says Binyamin as she squeezes water into the semolina and bulgur mix.
    Hide caption
    "Kubbeh dough feels weird!" says Binyamin as she squeezes water into the semolina and bulgur mix.
    Emily Harris/NPR
  • Chef Shlomi shows the campers how to fill a ball of dough with browned meat and pat the kubbeh smooth.
    Hide caption
    Chef Shlomi shows the campers how to fill a ball of dough with browned meat and pat the kubbeh smooth.
    Emily Harris/NPR
  • Noa Binyamin, 11, peeks at her friend's pink cell phone while shaping the dumpling mixture in her hands.
    Hide caption
    Noa Binyamin, 11, peeks at her friend's pink cell phone while shaping the dumpling mixture in her hands.
    Emily Harris/NPR
  • Binyamin slides the kubbeh carefully into boiling soup.
    Hide caption
    Binyamin slides the kubbeh carefully into boiling soup.
    Emily Harris/NPR
  • Chef Shlomi ladles out the students' hard-earned lunch.
    Hide caption
    Chef Shlomi ladles out the students' hard-earned lunch.
    Emily Harris/NPR
  • Before the campers can dig into the comfort food they made, Shlomi shares a bit of history about each dish. Like hummus, kubbeh is one of those dishes that is well loved, with local varieties from Iraq to Egypt.
    Hide caption
    Before the campers can dig into the comfort food they made, Shlomi shares a bit of history about each dish. Like hummus, kubbeh is one of those dishes that is well loved, with local varieties from Iraq to Egypt.
    Emily Harris/NPR

1 of 11

View slideshow i

People across the Levant love their dumplings, even if they can't agree on a name. Some say kubbeh; others say kibbeh. In Egypt, you might hear kobeba.

In Jerusalem, there are perhaps as many variations of the kubbeh as there are cultures in the city.

One popular version consists of meat wrapped in bulgur, then deep fried. Dip one in tahini for a crunchy snack.

But at the Te'amim — or Tastes — cooking camp in Jerusalem, chef Udi Shlomi prefers to teach kids to make kubbeh hamusta.

"Hamusta, it means hamuts, vinegary ... very lemony kind of a taste," Shlomi says. "The hamusta, it's one of the famous kubbeh that came from Kurdistan."

At cooking camp, Aviv Raz makes the filling for kubbeh hamusta, mixing onion into chopped beef. It's a beloved family dish her grandmother makes every Friday. i i

At cooking camp, Aviv Raz makes the filling for kubbeh hamusta, mixing onion into chopped beef. It's a beloved family dish her grandmother makes every Friday. Emily Harris/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Emily Harris/NPR
At cooking camp, Aviv Raz makes the filling for kubbeh hamusta, mixing onion into chopped beef. It's a beloved family dish her grandmother makes every Friday.

At cooking camp, Aviv Raz makes the filling for kubbeh hamusta, mixing onion into chopped beef. It's a beloved family dish her grandmother makes every Friday.

Emily Harris/NPR

In his recipe, the dumplings are made of semolina plus a little bulgur. The filling is seasoned ground beef. The kubbeh are cooked in a sour soup.

Camp participant Aviv Raz, 13, is thrilled to make kubbeh.

"My grandma makes kubbeh every Friday," she says. "And all the family, they come, they eat kubbeh, all the cousins. It's great."

Like hummus, kubbeh is one of those dishes that is well loved, with local varieties from Iraq to Egypt.

The kids start by sharpening big knives. They chop onions, garlic and celery for the meat filling.

Raz and her friends brown the beef in a heavy skillet,

Then they chop more celery, chard and zucchini for the soup. While the soup steams and the meat browns, they mix the dough for the dumplings. This is the hardest part to get right because of the semolina, a coarse flour ground from hard durum wheat.

"The semolina ... reacts differently from wheat flour or from rice flour," Shlomi, the chef, explains. "That's why it's more thick than the Asian dumplings that we know. It's soft, but you want to feel it, you know, the texture in your mouth."

He shows the kids how to first, grease their fingers, then roll a bit of dough into a ball, flatten it, put a little meat in the middle then pinch it shut. Raz pats away happily.

Chef Shlomi tastes the broth and calls for more lemon. Raz and her friends gently slide the dumplings into the soup. Finally, the kubbeh and other comfort foods cooked at camp on this day are set out for lunch. Chef Shlomi tries a dumpling.

His verdict?

"The texture of the dough [is] really, really good, soft, like it's supposed to be," he says. "Maybe a little salt in the filling, and a bit more vinegar, lemon."

Raz rates her work tasty, but nothing compared to her grandma's kubbeh.


Recipe: Kubbeh Hamusta

This recipe for the traditional Iraqi dumpling is from the Te'amim cooking camp at the Jerusalem Culinary Center.

Dough

3 cups of semolina flour

1 cup fine bulgur

water as needed

a generous amount of salt

Filling

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 medium sized onions, finely chopped

1 pound ground beef

salt to taste

pepper to taste

4 celery stalks, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, pressed

Soup

5 celery stalks, including leaves, coarsely chopped

5 Swiss chard leaves, green part only (not stems)

4 summer squash, coarsely chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

6 cups chicken or vegetable stock

salt, pepper to taste

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

juice of two lemons

Cooking

In a heavy skillet, lightly brown onions, celery and garlic in vegetable oil.

Add meat. Cook on high for 10 minutes, stirring periodically. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Lower heat. Cook until meat is browned. Remove from heat.

Put semolina and bulgur in a bowl. Add water until soft and easy to work with (not sticky). Oil hands. Pinch off pieces of dough and roll by hand into medium sized balls. Use thumb to make a dent in the middle, then put a spoonful of meat filling. Close dough around the meat and flatten the kubbeh. Make all in advance, put on a platter.

Place oil in soup pot. Heat, add all vegetables and lightly saute. Add stock, lemon, salt, pepper. Bring to boil, then turn heat to low and cook for about 40 minutes. Return to high heat, slide (don't drop) kubbeh into pot. Stir gently from time to time. Correct seasoning as needed. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, until kubbeh have firmed up.

Serve as a soup with extra broth or remove vegetables and kubbeh from soup to serve.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.