Arabic Language Blog

How to Prepare Pumpkin Kibbe Posted by on Oct 27, 2012 in Arabic Language, Culture

It’s the time of the year when everyone is rushing to purchase pumpkins for carving, home decoration or just to feel part of the Halloween Season! At least this is the case in the United States. You can either choose to buy orange or white pumpkins (لَقطين). Some shops even carry some weird looking pumpkins. So apart from using the pumpkins for decorative purposes, many individuals purchase pumpkins for preparing tasty pie or bread. In many countries in the Arab World, individuals purchase pumpkins and prepare a vegetarian form of Kibbe (كِبّة). In many Arab countries, like Lebanon, pumpkin kibbe is called lying kibbe (كبّة كذّابة) ; it looks like meat kibbe, but without the meat! It is traditionally popular during fasting days. It is basically made of pumpkin, bulgur and stuffed with chard, onions and walnuts.


Here’s the recipe my wife and I will use to cook our pumpkin kibbe. We have kindly borrowed this recipe from the website Taste of Beirut. I have also added a YouTube video with subtitles.

Ingredients (8 servings):

–          2 cups of fine bulgur (برغُل ناعم)

–          4 cups of cooked pumpkin (لقطين مَطبوخ)

–          1 medium white onion (بصل)

–          1 cup of fresh breadcrumbs or bits of pita bread (خبز)soaked in pumpkin water and squeezed dry

–          Spices: Salt (ملح), to taste; 1 1/2 tbsp of dried mint (نعنع ناشف) ; 1/2 tsp of white pepper (بهار أبيض); 1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon(قرفة) . (Feel free to adjust the spices according to your taste).

–          Filling: 1 cup of chopped walnuts(جوز مَطحون)

–          4 cups of shredded Swiss chard (or other green) (سِلِق)

–          2 large onions (بصل)

–          2 tbsp of sumac (سُمَّاق)

–          3 tbsp of lemon  (حامض) juice

–          Salt, to taste (ملح)

–          Olive oil (زيت زيتون)as needed

–          Vegetable oil (زيت نباتيّ)for frying


  1. Soak the bulgur for 5 minutes in water; drain and squeeze dry. Cook the pumpkin pieces and drain as well, squeezing them to release any remaining moisture while setting aside any pumpkin liquid to use later on to shape the kibbe balls. Place the pumpkin meat and bulgur in a bowl, mixing them with a spoon and set aside to allow the bulgur to soak up any bit of pumpkin juice left; grate the onion using a box grater over the pumpkin-bulgur mixture, add the fresh breadcrumbs and  spices and set the kibbe mixture aside while you prepare the filling.
  2. Wash and dry the chard; cut into narrow strips then cut the strips into small bits; chop the onions and fry in olive oil till softened. Add the chard and cook over low heat until softened. Add the walnuts and cook for a couple of minutes. Transfer the filling to a bowl adding sumac, lemon juice and salt to taste.
  3. Mix the kibbe dough either by hand or in a food processor until the mixture holds together and is moist. If needed, add a tablespoon or more of pumpkin juice or more breadcrumbs if the dough is too crumbly. Form egg-sized balls of dough and place them on a baking sheet next to you; starting with one ball, core it with the index finger while cupping it with the palm of the opposite hand (refer to the video to get a clearer picture). Stuff with 2 or 3 teaspoons of filling and enclose the kibbe ball.
  4. Fry the balls in several cups of hot vegetable oil for about 3 minutes until orange-brown and crispy. Serve with some additional lemon quarters if desired; a side dish of hummus is a good addition.

These kibbe can be boiled in salted boiling water for a few minutes; drain and coat in a dressing of mashed garlic lemon juice and olive oil.

For now, I encourage you to try out this recipe! As we say Sahtein! (صَحتين)

Watch out for my upcoming Halloween post in a couple of days!!


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About the Author: jesa

Salam everyone! Born as an American to two originally Arab parents, I have been raised and have spent most of my life in Beirut, Lebanon. I have lived my good times and my bad times in Beirut. I was but a young child when I had to learn to share my toys and food with others as we hid from bombs and fighting during the Lebanese Civil War. I feel my connection to Arabic as both a language and culture is severing and so it is with you, my readers and fellow Arabic lovers, and through you that I wish to reestablish this connection by creating one for you.


  1. Scheich Josef:

    Dear Jesa,

    in Wikipedia and in Wehr I find the two terms القرع and اليقطين used for “pumpkin”. You call them لَقطين. Is this term a Lebanese version of اليقطين? And is there any difference in meaning or usage between القرع and اليقطين?

    سعيد عيد الأضحى


  2. jesa:

    Ahlan Youssef,

    عيد مبارك

    Thanks for the wishes and this inquiry.
    القرع could be considered pumpkin, but it could be referring to other kinds of squash too. In some places they are used interchangeably.
    The term لَقطين is Lebanese, considered more as part of Levantine Arabic (Eastern Arabic).

    I hope this helps.

  3. Scheich Josef:

    Dear Jesa,

    yes, it helps.