Ablama (Stuffed Zucchini)

ablama 2

I’m back home in Lebanon and I plan to post more regularly! After a long vacation in Abu Dhabi with the family, I feel relaxed and ready to cook again 🙂 Today I made zucchini stuffed with meat; this dish is called Ablama, which means “ahead of time” though I don’t know why. Previously, I’ve made Ablama served with yogurt, you can find the recipe here, however this time I’ve cooked it in tomato sauce. Every time I make it, I’m reminded of my best friend M. About twenty years ago when M was newly wed, she invited me and my husband for lunch and prepared Ablama. She  is french educated and followed the instructions in a french cookbook. While we were eating, we noticed something different in the taste and when we asked her, she replied with her adorable french accent ” Oh! J’ai oublié  le 3ement”. Translated, it means “I forgot to do the third instruction” which consists of frying the zucchini. Now, every time I cook this meal, I remember M and the look on her face when she forgot to fry zucchini. Don’t forget to fry it when you try it yourself 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 kilo of baby zucchini
  • 200 grams minced meat
  • 1 medium onion, finely shopped
  • 1 handful pine seeds
  • 1 tablespoon tomato pureé
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon 7 spices
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • frying oil

Preparation:

  • Wash the zucchini, cut the head and remove the inside with a corer; don’t throw them, you’ll use them to make omelette with them (stay tuned, it will be in the next post)

ablama

  • Heat the frying oil in a saucepan and fry the zucchini until slightly colored, then place them on a kitchen towel to absorb the excess of oil and allow them to cool

ablama 1

  • In another saucepan, heat the canola oil, fry the pine seeds until golden color then put the onion and cook until the onion is colored, add the minced meat and let it cook. Season with one teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon seven spices
  • Fill the zucchini with the meat, place in a pot, cover with about 3 cups of water and tomato paste; season with the remaining teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of spices
  • Let it boil, then reduce the fire and let it simmer for about 25 minutes
  • Serve it with cooked rice, and enjoy

ET VOILA..C’EST TOUT 🙂 BON APPETIT!

Baked Kibbe (Kibbe Bilsaniya)

Kibbe is a famous Lebanese traditional food. It is made out of meat and bulgur with stuffing inside it from minced meat onion and spices. There are many ways to cook it: it can be baked in the oven, or rolled into balls with the stuffing inside it then fried and even cooked with yogurt. All these recipes require the same ingredients to make the Kibbe mixture and stuffing, however there are some variations. For instance, there is a vegetarian form of Kibbe made from pumpkin.

It’s a bit complex to make this dish, so I tried my best to simplify it for today’s post. Don’t be discouraged and feel free to post any questions in the comments if you need some clarification on any point, I’ll answer as soon as I see it. Together, we’re going to make Kibbe like rock stars! 😀

1.For the Kibbe:

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of fine brown bulgur
  • 600 grams beef meat
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon seven spices

Preparation:

  • Wash the bulgur and drain it from water
  • Grate the onion until very fine
  • Mix the meat with bulgur, add the salt and seven spices with the grated onion
  • Place the mixture in a food processor a bit at a time and keep blending until the mixture becomes creamy and all the meat and bulgur is used

Now your Kibbe is ready, put it in the fridge until you prepare the stuffing.

2.For the Stuffing:

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams minced meat (better fresh not frozen)
  • 3 medium onions finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon seven spices
  • 1/2 cup pine seeds (this is optional, but it is traditionally added and enhances the flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon grenadine molasses
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preparation:

  • In a large saucepan,  heat the oil and fry the onion until golden brown
  • Add the meat and fry with the onion for about 15 minutes
  • Now add the pine seeds, season with salt, seven spices and the grenadine molasses
  • Cook for about 10 minutes or until the pine seeds becomes golden color

Let the stuffing cool. Now you have all the ingredients to make the Kibbe in the oven. All you need to do now is assemble them.

3.Putting it all together:

You’re going to need one more additional ingredient: 1 tablespoon of corn wheat.

  • Preheat the oven to 200C and butter a baking pan.
  • In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon of corn wheat with 1 cup of cold water. Wet your hand in this corn wheat solution when handling the Kibbe.
  • Take enough Kibbe and spread it on the bottom of the pan to make a thin layer. (Remember to keep your hand wet with the corn wheat solution when handling the Kibbe!)
  • Add enough of the stuffing on top of the Kibbe to just cover it.
  • Afterwards, add another thin layer of the Kibbe over the stuffing, the same way you did for the bottom one. With your hand still wet from the corn wheat solution, press gently down on the top layer with the palm of your hand to flatten (not squish) it
  • Divide the tray into four equal parts with a knife (go through each of the layers)
  • With the knife still in hand, lightly make diagonal lines on the top layer to form small diamonds. This adds texture to the dish and also helps it bake properly
  • Spread 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil on the upper crust. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until you see it become a nice brown color
  • Serve it with plain yogurt, or yogurt salad: crush one clove of garlic with a pinch of salt and mix it with yogurt. Peel and dice 5 cucumbers. Mix with 1 tablespoon of dried mint.

ET VOILA..C’EST TOUT:)