Kobeiba with aubergine

Kobeiba with aubergine

Cairo Kitchen
Jonathan Gregson

Kobeiba is a versatile mixture of meat, grains and onion and is known throughout the region by different names — ‘kibbe’ in Lebanon and Syria, ‘kubba’ in Iraq and ‘bulgur koftesi’ in Turkey. Traditionally, the mixture is pounded in a pestle and mortar to create a smooth paste. In modern times, a food processor is used. A variety of flavours can be added to the filling and for this recipe we have incorporated aubergine, spices and pine nuts. Kobeiba make a perfect mezza as each one is bite-sized.


Quantity Ingredient
200g bulgur wheat
250g minced beef, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground allspice
pinch freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
vegetable oil, for deep-frying

For the filling

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon pine nuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
200g minced beef
1/2 aubergine, cut into small cubes
1 tablespoon fresh coriander, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground sumac
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper


  1. To make the kobeiba, soak the bulgur wheat in cold water for 20 minutes, then drain, pressing down to remove any excess water and squeezing the grains dry in your hands.
  2. Place the beef and bulgur wheat in a food processor and mince to a fine paste. Place the beef, bulgur wheat, onion, allspice, pepper and the salt in a large bowl and mix together, adding water if needed to keep it moist. Set aside.
  3. To prepare the filling, toast the pine nuts by placing in a dry frying pan over a medium heat and stirring for 2 to 3 minutes until they turn golden brown.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the onion and cook over a medium heat until soft. Add the beef and the aubergine, stirring until the meat is browned, then add the pine nuts, coriander, parsley, allspice, sumac and the salt and pepper, to taste, and cook for about 5 minutes.
  5. Shape the kobeiba mixture into about 14 golf ball-sized rounds using damp hands. Hollow out the centres using your thumb and place a rounded teaspoon of the filling inside the hole. Close the balls up and shape the kobeiba into teardrop shapes. Leave to rest in the fridge for about 20 minutes or the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up before frying.
  6. Fill a saucepan to three-quarters full with vegetable oil over a high heat, then deep-fry the kobeiba until browned on all sides and cooked through. This takes about 10 minutes. Serve hot as mezza.
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