These are not originally Brazilian, but you can get them anywhere in Brazil. They arrived there with the influx of Syrian and Lebanese immigrants. Over time, the ones you get as snacks or bar food in Brazilian food service establishments taste noticeably different than the ones I have eaten at authentic middle eastern restaurants here in the US.
For that reason, I am naming this recipe with the Brazilian spelling (quibe), as opposed to the more traditional spellings of kibbeh, kibbe or kibbah.
My mom made quibe for us growing up and it was a favorite meal. It was always served with a large tabbouleh salad like this one, which I previously posted. When she lived with us, she got all of my guys hooked on the meal.
Just so you know, this recipe is based on my mom’s version of quibe. It does not call for allspice and cumin, nor does it call for nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. There are some recipe versions in Brazil that call for what we call pimenta siria (Syrian pepper) which is a ground blend of black pepper, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon. But there are others that more closely resemble mom’s.
A more traditional kibbeh is also made in two layers, with one often being beef and the other lamb, one wrapped around the other. This quibe is made with just the ground beef.
I served quibe and tabbouleh to some girlfriends for lunch a couple of months back, accompanied by fresh pita and hummus, and it was a huge success. They left with doggy bags.
…and you need some olive oil too.
Bulgur is basically a cereal made from cracked wheat. It is very hard, so it needs to be softened in hot water before it can be used.
It will soften and expand a little with the water.
The quibes are going to be deep fried, so you want to eliminate all the water you possibly can from the bulgur. I like to twist it in a clean cotton cloth to squeeze all of the excess moisture out.
All the Brazilian recipes I have seen call for a double grind on the ground beef. That makes the crumble smaller and allows it to better embrace the seasonings. I also think it makes it juicier.
Place the garlic, onion, parsley, mint, salt and pepper in the food processor and process it until it is a runny paste. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and process just until incorporated. This combination will keep the inside of the croquette moist during frying. Again, the fine crumble and these processed components contribute to a slightly juicy bite into the quibe, keeping it from getting dry.
These need to be thoroughly combined, so after starting with a spatula, you may want to use your hands.
With practice, you will decide how much bulgur you really want. I like a nice little bit in my quibe.
Work it into the seasoned meat. Again, using your hands might work better.
Fried quibes are traditionally shaped more like an American football with pointy ends. I used to make them that way, but I found that the ends tended to overcook in the fryer and get dry, so I make more of a rounded oblong.
You may want to start with one and then cut into it to make sure the center is cooked. That will help you gauge how long to cook the other ones. You don’t want to cook them too long or they will dry up inside.
I sometimes like to squeeze a little lime into one after I take the first bite.
Or, you can make yourself a little tzatziki sauce like the picture below.
Either way, it is delish!
Quibe (Middle Eastern Meat Croquettes)
- 2 pounds ground sirloin or very lean ground beef
- 2 cups #1 bulgur wheat soaked
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh mint chopped
- 2 cloves garlic large
- 1/2 medium to large onion
- 3 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
- Hot water to soak the bulgur
- Start by soaking about 2/4 cup of #1 bulgur wheat in enough hot water to just cover it.
- Let soak for about an hour..
- Strain through a clean cotton towel, twisting to wring out excess moisture.
- Using a meat grinder, re-grind the ground beef to obtain a smaller crumble.
- Add the parsley, mint, onion, and garlic to the bowl of a food processor and process until it has the consistency of a runny paste.
- Add the olive oil and process until just combined.
- Pour mixture into the double ground meat and combine completely.
- Add two cups of the soaked and strained bulgur and combine completely.
- Shape into rounded oblongs and place single layer on a platter or large container in preparation for frying.
- Deep fry at approximately 350°F until a medium dark brown. They may darken further once removed from the fryer.
- Fry one first and cut into it to make sure it is done. Use this as a guide for how long to cook the remaining quibes.
- Place on a paper-lined tray to drain excess grease, and place in a keep warm oven until all units have been fried.
- Serve with lime of tzatziki sauce.