Whenever I hear “kebbe”, I am immediately taken back to school days.
This is a pie-like dish that we prepare in Lebanon with a lot of meat. The traditional vegan version is made with pumpkin.
Since pumpkin isn’t always in season, and Kebbe is technically the birthday cake of savory dishes, I decided to try making it with lentils instead!
Here is the result, and I’m definitely a huge fan.
My whole family is actually; half the pan was gone in barely an hour.
You will unfortunately need a food processor for this.
Let me know if you try it, tweak it, hate it or love it in the comments below!
Ingredients (around a 10 inch/26 cm round pan)
For the external layers:
- 1.25 cups red lentils
- 1.25 cups brown (soft) bulgur
- 1 big yellow/white onion (keep a small one aside too)
- 1/2 to 3/4 cups mint leaves (you’ll start with 1/2, and might want to add 1/4 according to taste)
- 2 tsps salt
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp 7 spices
- 1/4 tsp cumin
For the filling:
- 1 big onion
- 1/2 cup brown lentils
- 3 tsps raw pine nuts
- a pinch of cinnamon
- a pinch of cumin
- 1/4 tsp seven spices
- 1/2 tsp summac
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 to 1.5 heaped tbsp pomegranate molasses
Preparation– bear with me, it’s a long one.
- Rinse and drain lentils
- Place lentils in 2 separate pots (one for brown, one red), and add enough water to reach the equivalent of double the lentils’ height.
- Bring to a boil, then cover to simmer.
Only turn off heat once:
a. the red lentils are completely soft, almost overcooked.
b. the brown lentils‘ open up, and become extremely soft.
Tip: If the lentils haven’t reached that state and most of the water is evaporated, add more water.
This should take the red lentils around 20 min, and the brown lentils around 45 min (could go up to 1h).
While the lentils are cooking, let’s start with the surrounding layers:
- Cut one big onion in 4-5 pieces
- Rinse the bulgur and drain (there will always be some water you won’t be able to drain, that’s okay)
- Place onion pieces and bulgur in food processor
- Add 1/2 cup of mint leaves to the food processor first, then add the rest to taste
- Blend well
- Add spices, blend well, and taste. Add whatever spice/element you think is missing
Once the red lentils are cooked, drain them really well, then add to food processor and blend. Let this mixture rest.
Once the brown lentils are ready, prepare the filling:
- Pre-heat oven to 200C/392F
- Drain the lentils and set aside
- Dice a big onion and fry in a pan on medium heat with some vegetable oil
- Add a pinch of 7 spices and cinnamon, mix
- In a separate pan, roast the pine nuts on low heat until golden: make sure to keep an eye on them at all times – move them around every once in awhile to keep them from burning
- Once onions begin to soften, add pine nuts and lentils with an extra tbsp of olive oil (vegetable oil works too)
- Allow them to fry for around 3-5 min
Use a wooden spoon to mix; you want the lentils to soften even more, and blend with the onion.
- Add the rest of the spices, and the pomegranate molasses. Adjust to taste.
That’s it for the filling! Set aside.
Check up on the layer mix in the food processor, it should be slightly dryer by now
Tip: if it’s still too liquid and sticky, try adding some more bulgur, blend well, and wait. If it’s too dry, add water and/or olive oil a tbsp at a time. You want it to be dry enough to be handled as a paste, but not too dry (breaking).
- Grease a 10inch/26cm round pan with some olive oil
- Take half of the mix from the food processor, and use your hands to create an even layer in the pan
You want to create a slightly higher level along the borders to keep the filling inside
- Add filling mix, and spread evenly across the pan
- Add second half of the mix from the food processor, and using your hands, create an upper layer without letting it mix with the filling. Close the borders.
- Decorate the upper layer with a fork or a knife, dividing it just like a pizza, and drizzle with some more olive oil
Place in heated oven on the middle rack for 30-35 min, until bottom hardens.
Tip: keep it in oven for another 5-10 min; turn off bottom heat, and turn on the upper heat. This will ensure a crisp and golden surface.
👩🍳How to Serve 👩🍳
I’m enjoying my Kebbe in the picture with some VG Laban (Lebanese yogurt). You can have it with a pomegranate salad, extra pomegranate molasses, or with Fattoush (traditional lebanese salad) as well.
Could be served warm or cold, according to your preference.
I really hope you have fun preparing this one. Please do not hesitate to DM me on IG or email me if you have any questions of trouble in the process !!
In the meantime, stay home, stay safe, and let’s survive this one delicious vegan recipe at a time.