When most people think of kibbe, they think of the traditional lamb-shaped football, deep fried and stuffed with savory nuts and meat. However, when I first heard of a kibbe recipe using pumpkin, I was so excited! I realized not only are there so many recipes for meatless kibbe, but that it is not just some hippie-Western fad but indeed a Middle Eastern tradition. I found out that it is common in Lebanon to make meatless kibbe during Lent, which traditionally requires abstinence from meat.
The fall is the perfect season to make a pumpkin dish, as this is the season for them in the U.S. The bright orange color of pumpkins indicates that it is strong in beta-carotene. Research indicates that foods rich in beta carotene (which converts to Vitamin A in the body) may reduce the risk of certain cancers, particularly prostate cancer, and can protect against heart disease. Even the seeds have strong nutritional value. Although in the Middle East “Halloween” shaped pumpkins can be quite expensive, I have found some small local “pumpkins” that are very affordable. Pumpkin in Arabic is referred to as laqteen, la’teen, yaqteen, and probably a million other versions as well!
Our midEATS guest blogger this week, Hiba Ghalib Jabri, shares a recipe she adapted from the site Taste of Beirut. She is a dear friend of mine, and I have known her since we were in elementary school. Also a lawyer, she has a beautiful family of 5, mashAllah. Although we live continents away, I am always inspired by Hiba’s amazing culinary talent, as she posts amazing pictures of her dishes on Facebook. I hope this is only the first of her guest posts on midEATS!
– Brenda of midEATS
Kibbe Laqteen (Pumpkin Kibbe)
Our family has been trying to reduce our red-meat consumption and increase our vegetable intake. I love experimenting with new vegetables and using old ones in new ways. I made this twice during Ramadan and took it to potluck iftaar dinners. Both times, it was a hit and nobody missed the meat! Even picky kids liked it! I would imagine if they were shaped into traditional kibbe spheres and fried then they may have been even more popular.
This pumpkin kibbe recipe is healthy, easy, and different, with a touch of traditional Middle Eastern flair. I was inspired by a version of pumpkin kibbe that I came across on the site Taste of Beirut. I made a few tweaks here and there, and it is delicious. But, here is the thing. There is the shortcut version, and then there is the better version. The shortcut uses canned pumpkin and frozen vegetables. The better version uses fresh ingredients but takes a bit of time. If you have access to the fresh ingredients and some spare time, it is definitely worth trying the original recipe and saving the cans and frozen veggies for when you’re in a real time crunch.
Also, one thing I’ve learned is I hate sticking to a recipe. And this is one that allows me that liberty of changing it up. Feel free to do the same. If you like garbanzo beans, by all means, add more. If you prefer butternut squash over pumpkin, why not? In other words, there are no rules. Get inspired by the essence of this recipe, then take it and make it yours!
Hiba is an immigration attorney and partner of AMAL Law Group with offices in Chicago and Atlanta. She is active in her community of Atlanta, Georgia and enjoys entertaining, photography, and reading. However, one of Hiba’s favorite pastimes is baking and cooking, as it combines art, science, and the end result is a nutritious, tasty, serving of love. She loves to try new foods and gourmet ingredients.
While Hiba has always been a self-proclaimed “foodie”, it wasn’t until her Food Law class in graduate school, and subsequently having children of her own, that she began to take an interest in exploring the origins of different foods and healthy recipes that highlight them from all over the world. Hiba’s parents immigrated from Iraq in 1980, and while she grew up with mostly traditional Middle Eastern home cooking, there was always a flair of fusion with other cultures in their meals. Since Hiba’s husband is Syrian, she has also learned recipes from Syria and Turkey and continues to “marry” the different cultures on her family’s dinner table just as her mother did.
Hiba is passionate about healthy eating and doesn’t believe children are inherently picky eaters. Hiba likes to involve her young children in the preparation and cooking of their own meals, and finds that helps them not only feel proud and confident about their creation, but also encourages healthy eating habits at an early age. Lastly, Hiba believes there is no excuse to trash good food. If you plan ahead, and educate your family about the source of their meals as well as involve them in the preparation so they are not as picky, she believes we can greatly reduce our food waste as well as enjoy quality meals with our loved ones.