Two weeks ago my immune system decided, all on its own (bless its heart), to wage war against pollen. Me against a militia of relentless yellow, practically invisible, warriors on a mission to spread and procreate. It was like a cheesy action movie. The kind where the one good guy goes up against hundreds of bad guys and kicks all their butts, blindfolded and with one hand tied behind his back; except my butt was handed to me. I was a miserable mess — puffy eyes, congested, endless sneezing, light headed, the works.
While I was out with allergies, this post took a back seat. It shouldn’t have, because this dish is pretty fantastic, healthy and delicious. It’s a post dedicated to Middle Eastern dumplings called Kbeibat (pronounced: k’beh-baat — كبيبات). This was the first time I made them without my grandmother, but she was there the entire time, over the phone, walking me through every step.
The dough for the dumplings is fairly basic: bulgur wheat, semolina and water. My first attempt at making the dough, however, was a complete disaster. Not only did my camera run out of batteries mid-shoot, but the dough was a nightmare as far as doughs go: a big sticky mess. According to my grandmother, I over-soaked the bulgur and added more water when I clearly didn’t need to. What was I thinking? I blame the allergies.
As long as you don’t over-soak your bulger, you’ll be fine. You want the water to cover the bulger wheat by about an inch. After about 15-20 minutes, discard any remaining water from the bulgur and mix with the semolina flour to make the dough. Usually, there will be little, if no water left to drain. My mistake was I kept adding more and more water, which is what ended up saturating the bulgur wheat in the first place.
If you remember when I blogged about kefta kabobs, the filling for these dumplings is the same: ground beef, onions, parsley, ground allspice and salt. Since we’re not adding any extra fat and we’re boiling these dumplings, you’ll want to make sure to buy a fairly fatty selection of ground beef. 85% works great for this dish.
Things to do while forming dumplings: watch a movie, listen to a podcast/audiobook, or invite friends who enjoy cooking and have them help. It makes the entire process go by a lot quicker.
Tip: Use ice-cold water to help keep the dough from sticking to your hands.
Dumplings cook in 4-6 minutes. Enjoy!
yields approx 36 dumplings
- 1 cup bulgur wheat, #1 grind (fine)
- 1 cup fine semolina flour
- water, for dough
- 1 lb ground beef, 85%
- 2 medium onions
- 1 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tsp allspice, ground
- salt, to taste
Putting them all together
- Quickly rinse and strain bulgur wheat using cold water. It’s ok if some water remains.
- Soak the bulgur wheat in cold water to cover the surface by a finger or two, no more.
- Let bulgur wheat sit for at least 15-20 minutes.
- In the meantime, prepare the meat mixture by mixing together the grated onion, parsley, allspice and salt* with the ground beef.
- Mix the bulgur wheat, semolina, and a little salt (1/2 tsp kosher salt) to form the dough. Knead until it comes together. If wet, add a little more semolina. If dry, add a little more water.
- Cover dough until ready to use.
- Fill a bowl with ice water to keep your hands wet while shaping the dumplings*.
- Roll a 1-inch wide ball of dough between your hands. Open a hole using your pointer in one hand, while rotating and holding the shape of the ball with your other hand. Once the hole is wide and the dough casing is thin, stuff it with a spoonful of meat mixture and seal by pressing the edge of the hole together. Alternatively, you can follow the easier disk method outlined in the diagram on the blog post.
- Arrange the dumplings on a large sheet pan lined with parchment paper (or lightly coated with oil) to prevent them from sticking.
- Bring a medium sized pot of water to a simmer and season with salt (as you would when you’re making pasta).
- Simmer the dumplings for 6-8 minutes in batches.
Notes: You can check the raw meat for seasoning by cooking a tiny piece on a skillet. It’s easier to work with and shape the dumplings when your hands are wet. It will help keep the dough from sticking to your fingers.