Vegan Kibbeh Nayeh
Updated: Jun 19
The traditional recipe for Kibbeh Nayeh uses raw meat, usually with the freshest best lamb you can find mixed with bulgur and spices. Nayeh translates to raw in Arabic and is the steak tartare of Lebanon and Syria, where eating Kibbeh Nayeh is a revered ritual. So, Vegan Kibbeh Nayeh sounds like an oxymoron. But do you want the raw truth?! I neither eat raw meat or meat all together, so this is a vegan spin on the traditional raw meat “Kibbeh Nayeh." It has loads of flavors from fresh herbs to spices and uses red lentils as a base. Lentil based dishes are inexpensive, convienent, and are loaded with proteins, vitamins and minerals. My favorite thing is eating this with raw onions, maybe pickles and olives scooped with pita or tender lettuce leaves with a nice drizzle of olive oil. Serve this for lunch, light dinner, or as a great addition to your mezze table or as an appetizer.
Times like this call for food that nourishes the soul but are also both available and affordable. My grandmother always said if we have Adas (lentils) and olive oil at hand, we won't go hungry.
You can make this recipe a day or two in advance. Store in the fridge, and its good for several days.
Total: 45 mins
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Yield: 5 to 10 servings
2 cups red lentils, rinsed and drained
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp Aleppo pepper
chilli flakes optional
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp Harrisa or red pepper paste
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1.5 cup fine bulgur (cracked wheat)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 onion finely chopped
1 bunch spring onion, finely chopped
3 tbls of fresh mint leaves picked and finely chopped
1/2 cup parsley leaves stems picked and coarsely chopped
Shattah or red pepper relish
Fresh parsley and mint
Give your lentils a good rinse
Then add the lentils to the water make sure the water covers the lentils by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to simmer. Cook the lentils for 15-20 minutes until cooked through, the red would turn creamy and they absorb most of the cooking liquid.
Tip: there should be about 1/2 inch of water remaining on top of the lentils. If there is too much, drain some of the water.
Add the bulgur to the lentils, give it a stir to combine. Cover the pot and let the bulgur absorb all the excess cooking liquid about 30 minutes.
In the mean time sauté the onions in 2 tbls of olive oil, after 2 minutes add the seasoning and both the tomatoes and the harissa.
Add the onion mixture to the red lentils and bulgur stir to combine.
Let the mixture cool
When it's cool enough to handle, add on the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, green onions, and chopped mint and parsley until they are fully incorporated through the mixture. Season with salt to taste.
After the mixture has cooled enough to handle, shape into a an oval or whatever shape you like and smooth with the back of your spoon. Create a little border and add a nice drizzle of olive oil. Optional but i love the crunch add some toasted walnuts.
Another option or if you have leftovers. shape red lentils mixture into patties for a veggie burger alternative:
Use an ice cream scooper or a 1/2 measuring cup to make sure all are the same size.
You can wet your hands to help you shape the burgers.
pan fry in a bit of olive oil 2 minutes on each side until you create a nice sear and they are heated through.
Serve with tender lettuce leaves , stuffed in pita pocket or a burger bun, hot pepper paste, pickles, onions and extra herbs.