But I liked it; even better on the second day, when the flavours really took hold. It’s another one from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem, his Open Kibbeh.
Yotam describes this as a very untraditional variety of kibbeh, more of a layered cake incorporating all of the essential ingredients, to be served warm or at room temperature alongside a sharp salad. Let’s start with what goes into it:
125g fine bulgar wheat; 90ml olive oil; 2 garlic cloves, crushed; 2 medium onions, finely chopped; 1 green chilli, finely chopped; 350g minced lamb; 1tsp of each of allspice, cinnamon, coriander; 2 tbsp rough chopped coriander; 60g pine nuts; 3 tbsp rough chopped flat leaf parsley; 2 tbsp SR flour; 50g light tahini paste; 2 tsp lemon juice; 1 tsp sumac; salt & black pepper.
Preheat oven to 200C. Line a 20cm spring-form baking tin with greaseproof paper.
Place bulgar in a bowl and cover with 200ml water. Leave 30 mins.
Heat 4 tbsp. olive oil in a large frying pan. Saute garlic, onion and chilli on med-high heat until completely soft. Remove everything from pan, then return empty pan to high heat. Add lamb and cook for 5 mins, stirring continuously until brown.
Return onion mixture to the pan and add the spices, coriander and half tsp salt, generous grind of black pepper and most of the pine nuts and parsley, setting rest aside. Cook for a couple of minutes, remove from heat, taste and season.
Check the bulgar to see if all water absorbed. Strain, add the flour, 1 tbsp olive oil, quarter tsp salt and pinch of black pepper. Use hands to work it into a pliable mixture, just holding together. Add a extra flour if very sticky. Push firmly into base of tim so that it is compact and level. Spread the lamb mixture evenly over the surface and press down a little. Bake in oven for about 20 mins, until meat is quite a dark brown and very hot.
While waiting whisk up tahini paste with the lemon juice, 50 ml water and a pinch of salt. You are after a very thick but pourable sauce. If needed add a tiny amount more water.
Remove the kibbeh cake from oven, spread tahini sauce evenly on top, sprinkle with reserved pine nuts and chopped parsley and return immediately to oven. Bake for 10-12 mins until tahini is just setting and has taken on a little bit of colour, and the pine nuts are golden.
Remove from oven and leave to cool down until warm or at room temperature. Before serving sprinkle with the sumac and a drizzle of olive oil. Carefully remove sides from tin and cut into slices. Lift them gently so they don’t break.
Boy Urchin was fulsome in his praise for the chef – which probably means he’s after something – whilst trying his best to pick out the onion. But he left the table full, which is all I ask. Girl Urchin though, after pushing it around her plate, went for the cheese sandwich option that hadn’t been available.