Kibbeh Labanieh is a classic Middle Eastern dish of kibbe in a cooked garlic yogurt sauce. Delicious and comforting, and so easy when using ready made kibbeh.
What is kibbeh labanieh?
Kibbeh are parcels of spiced ground beef wrapped in bulgur and meat casing. They look like little American footballs, and are so delicious. Kibbeh is pretty time consuming to make, so this recipe makes good use of ready frozen kibbeh, found in any supermarket in the Middle East’s freezer section. If living abroad, you’ll most likely find them in a Middle Eastern supply store.
The labanieh part is from the laban sauce that the kebbe is served in (laban is a cooked Middle Eastern yogurt sauce). It’s thick and absolutely delicious and so easy to make!
Why should I make this recipe?
It’s such a simple recipe to make if using prepared kibbeh- either store bought frozen kibbeh, or kibbeh you previously made and froze.
The yogurt sauce comes together very simply with a handful of ingredients, and if you’ve never tried a cooked yogurt sauce, you’re in for a tangy, creamy treat!
The sauce itself is so versatile, a lot can be enjoyed in a yogurt sauce! Stuffed zucchini, shish barak (meat dumplings), fried cauliflower, broad beans, etc.
Ingredients to make kibbeh labanieh:
Kibbeh: I always use ready made frozen ones, they are very forgiving especially when being soaked in yogurt sauce like in this recipe. To make these homemade, this website has a very traditional recipe.
Ingredients for the yogurt sauce:
Full fat yogurt- In the Middle East, I like using yogurt labeled as “sour” yogurt, because I like some tanginess in the sauce, but don’t worry too much if you only have regular yogurt wherever you are.
Cilantro (Coriander) and minced garlic– Not everyone does this, but I like to sauté some cilantro and garlic in a little olive oil, and add this to the yogurt sauce. It adds so much flavor and depth to the sauce.
Egg and cornstarch- Some people use one or the other to thicken the sauce, but I think using a little of each gives the perfect texture to the cooked laban sauce.
Salt- to season
How to make the perfect Middle eastern yogurt sauce (laban):
- Make the fried cilantro/garlic: Heat olive oil in a skillet, add the chopped cilantro, crushed garlic and a pinch of salt and cook until garlic turns golden. Remove from the heat.
- Add the yogurt, cornstarch paste, egg, and salt to a large saucepan, and use a handheld immersion blender to blend until completely smooth and combined. You could do this in a tabletop blender too.
- Cook over medium heat, whisking consistently until sauce just comes to a boil. As soon as it does, remove it from the heat. Make sure you are whisking the whole time, and that you remove from the heat as soon as it boils because otherwise sauce could curdle and split.
- Add the cooked cilantro garlic mix into the cooked yogurt and stir until combined. Sauce is ready!
Oven baking frozen kibbeh:
Heat oven to 400 F. Lightly oil a baking sheet then place frozen kebbe onto the baking sheet. The best part is you don’t need to thaw the kibbeh in advance.
Drizzle kibbeh with additional oil and toss to combine. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown and crisp, turning over halfway through, so that both sides of the kibbeh are equally crispy.
Assembling the final dish:
I like to add the kibbeh to the yogurt sauce right before serving, and depending on the amount of people eating, I may not add all the kibbeh in at once, so that I can store leftover yogurt sauce and leftover baked kibbeh separately.
After adding the kibbeh, top with fresh chopped cilantro, and toasted nuts.
Serve with a side of rice, either stickier Egyptian rice, or vermicelli rice made with basmati rice.
Tips and tricks for laban sauce success:
Keep whisking while the sauce is on the stove! If you don’t whisk constantly, the sauce could split.
Similarly, remove the pan from the heat as soon as the sauce starts to boil, so that the sauce doesn’t split.
Taste and adjust for the amount of salt needed.
If you want the sauce thicker, you can add another tablespoon of cornstarch and whisk until thickened further.
As mentioned, I prefer storing the yogurt sauce and baked kibbeh separately. Both will last, in tightly covered containers, in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Just reheat the yogurt sauce over low heat on the stove top, adding a splash of water to thin it out if needed. You can add the kibbeh directly into the sauce to reheat.
If you liked this recipe, you might like:
Middle Eastern Stuffed Zucchini
For the laban yogurt sauce:
- handful fresh cilantro or coriander, finely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 cups full fat yogurt see notes, 1000 g or 2 lb
- 1 egg
- 1 heaped tbsp cornstarch cornflour (2 tablespoon if you want a thicker sauce)
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the kebbe:
- 20-24 pieces ready frozen kebbe, no need to thaw
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- toasted pine nuts or almond slivers
- handful chopped cilantro or coriander
For the yogurt sauce:
- Heat a small skillet over medium high heat, and sauté the chopped coriander and crushed garlic with a pinch of salt until the garlic has just turned golden. Set aside.
- Mix the cornstarch with just a splash of cold water to create a paste.
- Using a blender or immersion blender, blend together the yogurt, the egg, the cornstarch paste, and the salt until well combined.
- Pour yogurt mixture into a heavy saucepan over medium heat and immediately start whisking. Keep whisking and don’t stop or the sauce will separate. After 8-10 minutes or so, the sauce will begin to boil and as soon as that happens take it off the stove.
- Add the fried garlic and coriander mix, stir and taste for seasoning.
For the kebbe:
- Heat oven to 400 F. Lightly oil a baking sheet then place frozen kebbe onto the baking sheet, no need to defrost. Drizzle with additional oil and toss to combine. Bake 20-30 minutes until golden brown and crisp, turning over halfway through.
- I like to add the kebbe to the yogurt sauce just before eating, because I still like the kebbe to be a little crispy. Traditionally, you'd add it to the yogurt sauce and heat for a few minutes to let the kebbe get a little soft, so do whichever you prefer!
- Garnish with fresh chopped coriander and toasted pine nuts or almonds, see notes. Serve with Egyptian rice or vermicelli rice, recipe linked in the notes below.
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