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Kibbeh Hamdah

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    4 People
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Family Story

My Grandmother Fritzie Abadi who was born in Aleppo, Syria brought this recipe with her to Brooklyn, New York and prepared it for the family when I was young. Kibbeh Hamdah was one of my favorite Syrian dishes that I remember my grandmother Fritzie preparing when I was a child. While she often made it for Friday night Shabbat dinners, sometimes she would substitute the bulgur wheat with rice so that it could also be served as the first course for the Passover meal. I always loved the texture of the stuffed meatballs, and how the lemony broth was served in a big bowl swimming with sliced carrots, potatoes, mint leaves, and one whole cooked yellow squash that sunk to the bottom. In Syrian cooking the index finger is used as a very important tool to hollow out any kind of dough (made of meat, flour, or grain) to create a rounded or oblong shell to stuff. This rounded, hollow shape is what is called a “kibbeh,” and the finger is therefore the “kibbeh finger.” Some Syrian women would go as far as to say that another woman has a “real kibbeh finger” or “not a very good kibbeh finger,” depending on how well she shapes and stuffs her kibbeh. Once I overheard Grandma Fritzie and her two sisters talking about another Syrian woman who had hurt her index finger and had put off having it checked for six months. Grandma Fritzie remarked, “Thank G-d it wasn’t her Kibbeh Hamdah finger!” ©Jennifer Abadi / Kibbeh Hamdah is excerpted from “A Fistful of Lentils: Syrian-Jewish Recipes from Grandma Fritzie’s Kitchen” by cookbook author and recipe preserver Jennifer Abadi.


1 Step

For Outer Meatball Shell: 1/2 pound ground beef (not lean) 1/3 cup long-grain white rice (if you have a meat or spice grinder) or fine-grain bulgur wheat (labeled #1 or #2 in specialty Middle Eastern stores) or Cream of Rice cereal (if you don’t own a grinder) 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 Step

For Meatball Filling: 1/2 pound ground beef (not lean) 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice 1 teaspoon kosher salt 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh curly-leaf parsley leaves

3 Step

For Broth: Two 14.5-ounce cans (about 4 cups) low- or no-sodium beef stock 1 cup cold water 1 cup coarsely chopped celery 1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped yellow onions 1/2 cup 1/4-inch-thick carrot slices 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic 1 tablespoon dried mint leaves Kosher salt to taste (amount will depend on how much salt is already in your beef stock) Several grindings of black pepper 1 large yellow squash or zucchini, stem discarded 1/2 cup freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice 1/2 cup fresh or frozen and defrosted peas 1 cup peeled and cubed white potatoes (any kind)

4 Step

Prepare the Outer Meatball Shell 1. Combine the meat with the fine bulgur or Cream of Rice cereal and salt in a food processor and process until it becomes a smooth paste, 1 to 2 minutes. Scoop the mixture out into a small bowl using a rubber spatula. 2. Scoop out 1½ level teaspoons (½ level tablespoon) of the mixture and roll it into a smooth ball. Place it on a plate and finish rolling out the remaining balls. Set aside.

5 Step

Prepare the Filling or Inner Meatballs 3. Mix the filling ingredients in a medium-size bowl by squeezing them together with your hands until very soft and well blended. 4. Scoop out 1 level teaspoon of the filling mixture and roll it into a smooth ball. Place it on a plate and continue to measure and roll into balls until the meat mixture is finished.

6 Step

Form and Stuff the Meatballs 5. Take one of the shell meatballs and make an indentation with your thumb or index finger in the center to form a thin cup shape. Place one of the small filling meatballs into the cup and gently pinch together the opening with your fingertips to create a smooth, round ball. Repeat with the remaining shell and filling mixtures and set them all aside on a plate. (Note: To smooth out cracks in the shell and create a smooth meatball, dip your fingers in cold water and gently pinch the cracks together.) If any of the meatball filling is left over, roll it into small meatballs and add them to the soup along with the larger stuffed ones.

7 Step

Prepare the Soup and Serve: 6. Bring the beef stock and water to a boil over high heat in a large soup pot. Reduce to a medium-low heat and drop in the meatballs. Simmer for 15 minutes. 7. Add the rest of the broth ingredients except the lemon juice, peas, and potatoes. Stir gently and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. 8. Mix in the lemon juice, peas and potatoes and continue to simmer for 15 minutes. 9. Serve soup hot in a large serving bowl with squash left whole or cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices.


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