16 oz. plain yogurt (fat optional)
2 c. water
1/3 oz. fresh mint, chopped fine (reserve sprigs for garnish)
1 tbsp. corn starch
1 tbsp. salt
½ tsp. fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp. crushed black pepper
For Kubba wrapper:
3 c. red bulgur wheat
1 c. lean ground beef
2 tsp. salt
vegetable oil for deep frying
For Kubba and Borak filling:
1 white or purple onion, finely chopped
2 lb. 90/10-fat-ratio ground beef
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. pine nuts
olive oil for sautéing
2 egg roll wrappers
2 tbsp. Kubba filling meat (reserve from Kubba portion)
1 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tbsp. cheddar cheese, grated
¼ tsp. each white pepper, garlic powder and oregano
vegetable oil for frying
Choice of pickled veggies as a platter. (We serve with pita wedges, chopped cabbage, black and green olives, pickles, and pickled turnips, carrots, jalapeños and cauliflower.)
Mix yogurt with water and the egg in a blender. Transfer into a pot, adding the other ingredients, and heat to a boil, turning down to a simmer for 15 minutes. Stir constantly — mixture will be fairly thick. Set aside.
Hydrate bulgur in hot water and let sit until tacky. Drain any excess water if necessary. Mix the raw beef and salt into the bulgur and form into a dough. Set aside. For the filling, sauté onions until translucent then brown the beef. Add the pine nuts, salt, pepper and parsley to the browned beef, and simmer for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat. Once cool enough to handle, take a heaping tablespoon or so of the wrapper mixture and flatten with your palm, stuffing each with a couple teaspoons or so of filling. The size can be up to you; we make ours about thumb-length and oval shaped, which yields around 20 to 24 pieces. Deep fry in vegetable oil until golden.
Fill one wrapper with the reserved two tablespoons of meat mix, fold into a flat egg roll shape, and set aside. Mix the cheeses with seasonings and stuff the second wrapper. Fry with the Kubba.
Set the side platter of pickled vegetables. (We pickle our own in salt solution on day one, drained and replaced by a vinegar solution on day two. We season with lemon juice, yellow curry, turmeric and garlic.) Add the pita, Borak and extra Kubba pieces. Warm the Labannia and pour into soup bowls, adding three or four Kubba and a sprig of mint for garnish. This recipe serves 3 to 4, but more pickled veggies and Borak may of course be added.
Kubba and Labannia is served across the Mideast, in countries like Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and in northern Iraq. Though it is eaten year-round, it makes a particularly wonderful winter meal, as it is warming and filling. We also serve it here at Arabian Nights. For most of our customers, it is the first time they have tried the dish, and they have always liked it and finished it happily.
— Submitted by chef Simood Gorguis