I was remarking to one of the women I work with the other day that I am beginning to develop a complex about my culinary heritage. My family is about as Eastern European as you can get- my dad's family was from Poland and my mom's from Hungary. In contrast, the women I work with are Yemenite, Moroccan, Bukharin and Indian. They make exotic cubano and lahukh and zhug and sambusak. My grandmother's delkelach seem so tame in comparison. In truth, I am fully aware that I have a rich culinary tradition and that I come from a long line of very good cooks. But still, it is at once exciting and intimidating to be exposed to so many new foods and traditions in such a short span of time.
The thing about traditional food is that, paradoxically, everyone's got their own version and everyone is certain that their's is the one authentic version. I'm fairly certain that the recipe for kubbe I'll be posting below could be vigorously, and legitimately, disputed. (You should just hear my grandmother and her sister debate honey cake). Traditions develop and evolve. They differ according to geographical location, religious affiliation and family. They get tweaked by whim, or necessity. In the small amount of research I did for this post I found at least 5 different "traditional" kubbe recipes, and each one of them was unlike the other in fundamental ways. The one I am posting is the one that most closely resembles the version that A taught me. Tweak as you'd like.
Again, rolling kubbe is tedious work. Friends are recommended.
Adapted from Rafael Cohen. Translation (loose), mine.
400 grams fine grain bulgur
1 tbl. paprika
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tbl. salt
3 tbl. flour
1/2 cup water
1. Place the bulgur is a bowl and cover with water. Soak for 40 minutes.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and knead until a uniform dough is formed.
3. Pinch off about a walnut sized piece of dough and form into a ball. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
1/2 kilo roughly chopped beef
2-3 cups of finely chopped onion
5 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
1. In a wide pan, heat the oil. When hot, add the onion and fry for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden.
2. Add the celery and cook 2 minutes more.
3. Add the meat, salt and pepper. As the meat cooks, move it around with a spoon or spatula so that it breaks up.
5. Cook until all the liquid has evaporated- about 10 minutes
6. Transfer the meat to a strainer and let cool. The filling should only be used after it is dry and cool.
Making the kubbe: (even if you do not read Hebrew, I highly recommend visiting Rafael's site and having a look at his photographs. They very clearly demonstrate the correct way to fill kubbe. It is a lot less complicated than it sounds.)
-Take a ball of dough and place in the center of your palm. Using your other thumb, make a small crater in the center of the dough. Use your fingers to widen the crater, so that you create a sort of bowl in the center of your hand. Fill the "bowl" with the filling. Cup your hand and pull the dough over the filling, closing it with the tips of your fingers. Make sure that the filling is completely covered and that there are no cracks or holes in the dough. Roll the dough into an oval shape between your hands, pinching at the ends, so that it looks a bit like a torpedo. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.
At this point the kubbe can be frozen and fried at a later date.
Frying the kubbe:
1. Heat oil for deep frying in a wide, deep pan.
2. Place the kubbe in the oil, and fry until they become a dark brown.
3. Remove and drain on paper towel-lined plated
Serve with tehina on the side.