Kibbeh, Fatayer, and Savory Pastries
Kibbeh has so many variations it’s impossible to list them all here, but the basic concept behind this beloved Levantine starter (though also served as a main) is some sort of seasoned filling encapsulated in a shell of bulgur wheat that is either fried in balls or baked in a pan and cut into wedges. The most common kibbeh is shaped like teardrops and filled with beef, lamb or goat with minced onions and pine nuts. Other variations use fish, potatoes, eggplant, cheese, and even pumpkin and dried lamb fat (a delicacy from Ehden), and are served variously with seasoned yogurts, pomegranate reductions, etc.
Fatayer sbenikh is a mix of seasoned spinach, onion, sumac and pine nuts pressed into a triangle of pastry dough and baked until light golden brown. Fatayer sbenikh is the most distinct of a wide variety of what are essentially sambousik—or samosa—which are little wedges of pastry dough stuffed with any number of fillings, meat and cheese being primary, and served as mezze. The Lebanese also make their own versions of spring rolls (called rqaqat), and as with sambousik, the variety of fillings is seemingly endless.