Wheat and Meat loaf – Kobeba

Wheat and Meat loaf – Kobeba
December 18, 2012 Dyna Eldaief
Christmas is in the air.  We have had a very busy weekend catching up with friends and family and have now had two of our annual Christmas parties to attend.  I feel like I have been moving non stop for the last few days.  My contribution has been mainly desserts and sweets which included Christmas chocolates that I had in moulds and decorated with the boys as well as some very easy chocolate pudding lookalikes, and little reindeers.  All of those were a hit with the kids.  I might make another batch to take to the Kinder Christmas party this week.  If I get a chance I might even make a video and put it up for the “Cooking in your pyjamas” video collection on my cooking channel (DynasEgyptiancooking Channel on YouTube).
also made a dark and white chocolate cheesecake and a Danish custard pudding which was really tasty and I took along a main dish Sunday too – كبيبة  Kobeba.  My brother saw it and said “ I haven’t had kobeba for so long. This is one of my favourites!”.  I must file that away for future reference.  It is always great making food which people refer to as their favourite.    Truth be told كبيبة  Kobeba was always a welcome sight to me when my mother made it.  Delicious!  I didn’t have too much trouble getting it made on this occasion but it hasn’t always been the case.  Last time I made this I am sure would have had my mother shaking her head in disapproval.
That time I decided to tackle making Kobeba– and by tackle I mean undertake a task that required significant lateral thinking.  كبيبة  Kobeba is basically wheat (burghul, bulgur) that is minced together with ground beef, onion and spices.  Growing up we had it as little cocoons that were stuffed and fried producing wonderfully crunchy shells which gave way to the meat filling.  Alternatively it was layered in a tray (wheat, meat, wheat) and baked.  The ideal way to make the bulgur mixture (and the way I always saw my mother make this) was to use a meat mincer attachment to a mixer and alternate the bulgur, meat and onions so that it is all very finely ground together and combines well.  I don’t have a standalone mincer or a mincer attachment for my mixer.  The alternative I thought of was to use a food processor and while I do have one of those it was broken and I gave it to my father in law in the hope that something could be done in the way of repairing it.  He lives about 4 hours away by car so popping over to get it was out of the question.  I really had nothing else to use except a hand / stick blender. 
Without any other options I set to work.  I blended the onions first since that they would produce a little liquid. I added some minced beef and a little more then transferred it to another bowl and tried to blend in some of the bulgur.  With quite a bit of patience and the need to produce a finished product with all the ingredients I had set out with, I persevered and actually ended up with a similar product to what I needed.  It was messy having bowls and containers of different sizes and with burghul and meat at different stages of mincing.
The smell of كبيبة  Kobeba is wonderfully comforting.  This is another dish I am particularly fond of and since I can no longer have my mother make it for me it really is up to me to try, try and try again until I produce something similar to what my mother used to make.  I really took in the smell and was determined to finish.  Time consuming but not a bad outcome considering my lack of vital equipment.  Finally I had all the mince, onion and bulgur used up and now all minced together in one bowl.  I added the spices and while I stood in the kitchen layering a baking dish to make the baked كبيبة  Kobeba or my family, I thought of my mum standing in her kitchen making this for her family.    I enjoyed that time of reflection.  I felt connected to her
in a positive happy way.  I do miss her at times like this but at least now her food and cooking can live on.
(The photos are mostly of my mother putting this together in her kitchen. It is the only series of photos I have of her cooking and it happens to be one of my favourite dishes!)
500g / ½ kg fine, brown bulgur wheat
500g ½ kg lean ground beef
2-3 large onions cut into quarters
2 teaspoons cinnamon or mixed spice
1 ½ teaspoon nutmeg/mace/allspice

½ -1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoon salt or to taste
Butter extra
Meat filling:
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
500g ½ kg lean beef mince
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon or mixed spice
1 teaspoon nutmeg/mace/allspice
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons pine nut, if desired.
To prepare the bulgur:
Place bulgur in a large bowl, cover with hot tap water for 1-2 hours, or until the water had been absorbed and the wheat is soft and has doubled in volume.
Wheat and Meat loaf كبيبة Kobeba
Bulgul / Burghul
Remove the excess water from the wheat by taking handfuls of wheat and squeezing the water out.  Place the dry wheat into a clean bowl.
Wheat and Meat loaf كبيبة Kobeba
Bulgul / Burghul
For the filling:
In a large pan, melt the butter and fry the onion for 2 minutes until golden. Add the meat and brown over medium heat.  Add the spices and season with salt to taste.  Cook, stirring occasionally
, until all the liquid has evaporated.  Add the pine nuts and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Add 1 to 2 cups water to cover the meat.  Bring to the boil on high heat, reduced heat and simmer until again until all the liquid has evaporated.
Wheat and Meat loaf كبيبة Kobeba
Frying onion for filling
Wheat and Meat loaf كبيبة Kobeba
Browning meat
Wheat and Meat loaf كبيبة Kobeba
Meat filling is cooking
Wheat and Meat loaf كبيبة Kobeba
Cooked meat filling ready for assembly
Using a meat mincer, mince together the meat, bulgur and onion quarters, alternatively.  Collect the combined mixture into a bowl then add the salt, pepper, mace and cinnamon to the mixture and mix to combine.
Alternatively place the ground beef in food processor and mince to fine paste. Add the remainder of the ingredients (adding water a little at a time) to the blender and mix. Remove and keep aside.
Wheat and Meat loaf كبيبة Kobeba
Mince meat, Bulgul and onions ready for mincing
Wheat and Meat loaf كبيبة Kobeba
Alternate onions meat and bulgul in the mincer
Wheat and Meat loaf كبيبة Kobeba
Using the plunger is better
Wheat and Meat loaf كبيبة Kobeba
catch the minced meat and wheat into a clean bowl
Wheat and Meat loaf كبيبة Kobeba
The mincer does a great job of combining everything together
Wheat and Meat loaf كبيبة Kobeba
Use your hands for combining the ingredients with the spices
Preheat oven to moderate 180°C (350°F/Gas mark 4).  Grease a 30cm x 25cm tray.  Place half the bulgur mixture into the tray and flatten using the palm of your hand.  Spread the cooked mince over the base.  Use the remaining bulgur mixture to cover the meat.  You may need to wet your hands to flatten the bulgur for the top layer.
Wheat and Meat loaf كبيبة Kobeba
Flatten half the mixture into the tray
Wheat and Meat loaf كبيبة Kobeba
cover with dollops of butter before baking


Cut into squares.  Place a few small dollops of butter on top of the Kobeba before placing in the oven and baking for 75 – 90 minutes or until golden brown on top and cooked all the way through. 
Wheat and Meat loaf كبيبة Kobeba
Bake until golden brown on top and cooked through


This was the original photo I had for this dish.  I made it in Canberra during the 4 year stint we had there for work. .  I am sure we can all find problems with it.
At the time I thought this was a great shot!
Here is the latest and greatest photographed version.