Kebbet el Heele

On the last Friday before Easter Sunday, Christians all around Syria prepare to mark one of the most important holidays of the year.

In Syria, this time of year is filled with traditions that bring the family together.  Also  special food is served during this time .

Kebbet el Heele is a dish served also in the Levant.Its name includes the word Heele which translates into 'fake'. This is because "kebbe" is usually made of burghul (crushed wheat), onions and meat but with kebbet el 7eele, flour, vegetables, lentils, sumac and other spices are mixed together to imitate the taste of meat.

It is said that the dish was created when a woman living in Qalamoun, Syria,  wanted to serve her family traditional kebbe, but could not afford to buy meat, so she came up with something that tasted just as good.

Over the years Kebbet el Heele has become a staple dish served during  Lent , particularly on Good Friday, and especially in North Syria. its made with onion, flour, Burghul and dried mint powder and rolled into small Kibbe balls that are then cooked with crushed garlic, a bit of olive oil, a generous amount of pomegranate molasses.


Dough Ingredients:

1 cup of all-purpose flour

1/2 cup of fine burghul (cracked wheat)

1 small onion very finely chopped (very finely minced, important)

1 teaspoon of dried mint powder

A pinch of salt

Stew Ingredients:

2 cups of Boiled chickpeas

1 garlic head, crushed

1/4 cup of olive oil

1/2 cup pomegranate molasses.

A dash of salt


Preparation Method

1-    Put the chickpeas in the pot with 6 cups of fresh warm water and a pinch of salt, and heat.

2-    Meanwhile, soak the Burghul in a cup of water for about 5 minutes, then strain and add to a mixing bowl. Add the flour, dried mint powder and finely minced onions and a dash of salt to the bowl. Mix the ingredients well, then add 1/2 cup of water and knead with hands into a dough. Don’t add too much water so the dough doesn’t turn soft, it needs to be somewhat dry.

Making the dough rolls: Moisten your hand palms with a few droplets of water (it helps to have a cup of water around). Take a tiny chunk of dough and roll between the palms of your hands until it turns into a small ball the size of a chickpea (less than 1 cm  in diameter or about 1/3 of an inch). Make them small so they cook faster. Place the dough balls on a tray dusted with flour until you’ve processed the entire dough.

3-   Add the dough balls to the pot gently, one by one.

4-   Crush the garlic and mix with the olive oil and salt. Add to the cooking pot.

5-   Add the pomegranate molasses to the pot.

Stir the pot gently, cover and let simmer for another 20-30 minutes until the dough cooks.

Serve hot.


Lara khouli