Kibbeh, in any form, is an act of love and an artistic expression. This is something I learned in the Summer of 2020.  A season that brought us great heartache in Beirut but also an incredible blessing. Due to COVID, our family did not return to the US for the summer. We stayed in Lebanon and took our summer holiday in the north, in a small, sweet village called Barbara. We left Beirut on August 2nd. Our 2 week vacation turned into a 3 month stay as we were unable to return to our destroyed home in the city after the horrid blast of August 4.

In Barbara,  we met many of the villagers who have become an extension of our family. Auntie Saniya was our direct neighbor and the embodiment of matriarchal love. At 80-something, she is chic and beautiful, as smart as a whip and cares for her grown children and grandchildren with deep love.

She cooks for them daily and her food is gorgeous and delicious. During those hot, difficult days after the blast, I took respite in her kitchen, watching and learning from her and taking in her precious wisdom.  One of her most stunning and practical dishes is Kibbeh bil Sanieh. Translation: Kibbeh on a plate.

For this one you should have plenty of olive oil on hand and a fine knife for letting your creativity shine when decorating this beautiful dish. Auntie Saniya makes the sign of the cross  3 times when pouring the olive oil over the dish. She also decorates every piece with pine nuts in the shape of the holy cross. Blessings in every bite! 

I asked Auntie Saniya to share her magic touch secret...

Do everything with love, ya Hayati!- she says. 

Auntie Saniya captures the essence of Soul Roots. 

Ancestry.   Food.    Love.

This is why I have chosen to feature her recipe first. 

So, without further adieu, here is her famous and beautiful Kibbeh Bil Sanieh recipe.


▢1 cup fine bulgur
▢1 lb. ground beef, extra lean beef - ask your local butcher to grind x2.
▢1 cup kamoune *see ingredients below
▢1½ cups hot water
▢2 tsp. salt
▢1 tb. pine nuts for décor
▢3 tb. olive oil
Beef Filling
▢1 lb. ground beef
▢1 lg. onion chopped
▢¼ cup pine nuts
▢1 tsp. salt
▢½ tsp. black pepper

▢1 cup fine bulgur
▢ ½ onion
▢ ½ large red bell pepper
▢ ¼ cup Soul Roots Dry Mint 
▢ 1 tsp. Salt


Preheat oven to 350°F degrees and grease a 12-inch round baking dish or a 14-inch rectangle dish with one tablespoon of olive oil and set aside.

Measure 1 cup of fine bulgur into a large bowl, then pour 1½ cups of hot water over the bulgur and set aside. 

Prepare Kamouneh. Add 1 cup of fine bulgur, ½ onion,dry mint, red bell pepper, kibbeh spices, salt and Aleppo pepper. Process until the onion and red pepper are fully chopped and everything is combined. Set aside.

Prepare Beef Filling. Finely chop a large onion. In a large skillet, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the pine nuts and sauté for a few min until golden brown and set aside. Add the ground beef to the skillet and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until the meat is all browned. Add the chopped onion, remaining oil and salt.  Season with the seven spices and black pepper and add the pine nuts. Cook until onion is translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Now return to the soaked bulgar. Using your hands, knead for a few minutes, until the wheat grains stick together.  Add the extra lean ground beef, Kamouneh, salt and kibbeh spice and mix with your hands until fully combined. Take about half the kibbeh dough and add it to the food processor. Pulse for about 20 seconds or so until the mix has been fully incorporated. Do the same with the other half and add the kibbeh dough back to the bowl.

Prepare a small bowl of cold water and set it near your working area. Using your hands, spread half of the Kibbeh mixture evenly on the bottom of the greased baking dish. Spoon all the beef and onion filling on top of the bottom layer. Using the remaining Kibbeh mixture, grab handfuls at a time and press down with your hand to make flat patties. Place the patties over the middle layer and repeat until no more middle layer shows and no kibbeh remains. Use water as needed to combine the patties and create a smooth top layer.

Using a smooth bladed knife,  slice Kibbeh diagonally to form diamond-shaped slices. Top with pine nuts over each slice.  Use the remaining pine nuts to decorate each kibbeh portion. Drizzle with olive oil to coat the top layer. Bake until meat is fully cooked and browned on top, about 50-55 minutes.  Serve with a dollop of Laban bil Khair or plain greek yogurt and a fresh salad. 

Note: Each tray makes 6 servings. I like to double this recipe and freeze one to use another day. If doubling, just leave out the final drizzle of olive oil and reserve it for when you defrost the tray to use it.