February 2009

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The Taro used in this recipe is the root (tuber) brownish one. Rich in calcium and iron, root Taro is an excellent source of energy and fibre. The traditional way we cook it with tahini sauce and chickpeas make it an ideal meal for vegans or non-vegans. This dish can be prepared in advance and re-heated, it also freezes well.

Taro Root (Colocassia)

Taro Root (Colocasia)

If you wish to know more about the benefits of Taro, I included 3 websites at the end of the recipe. 

Which one to buy?

Select a Taro that is firm and has no traces of mould. I normally go for the large ones (weighing about 1 kg / 2¼ lb) because they are creamier and richer than the small ones.

Word of advice

Root Taro contains calcium oxalate, a substance that can irritate both mouth and skin. So never taste the taro raw and preferably wear gloves when peeling raw Taro.

Serves: 2-3


  • 50 g / 2 oz chickpeas soaked overnight in water with ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda or the same amount of tinned chickpeas
  • 550 g / 1¼ lb  Taro / Colocasia
  • 450 g / 1lb onions peeled and quartered
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 300ml/ vegetable stock
  • Salt & freshly milled black pepper

Tahini sauce

  • 2 cloves of garlic peeled and crushed to a paste
  • 85 ml / 3 fl oz     tahini paste
  • 60 ml / 2¼ fl of lemon juice or for a sweet and sour taste, use half orange juice, half lemon juice
  • 100 ml / 3½ fl oz water



1.      If you are starting with the chickpeas you soaked overnight, rinse them under cold water, transfer to a small saucepan, cover generously with water and add ½ tsp salt. Bring to the boil using high heat and removing any scum that forms on the surface. Once you’ve finished, reduce to a medium heat, cover and simmer for roughly 40 minutes, (you know the chickpea is cooked when you can insert a fork). Check once or twice whether you need topping up with hot water. The tinned chickpeas can simply be drained and used as is in section 3.

2.      Peel the Taro / Colocasia protecting your hands with gloves, the skin is usually tougher than potato, so you need a sharp knife. Remove all the brownish muddy skin until you get to the firm, white flesh. Then halve the taro lengthwise and slice each half across into about 1 cm / ½ inch thick slices then into 1 cm cubes. Rinse them under tap water, then pat dry them thoroughly. Heat up 1 ½ tbsp of the oil in a pan and fry the Taro / Colocassia cubes until golden. Drain excess fat on a kitchen paper.

3.      Heat up the remaining oil in a medium sized saucepan and sauté the onions. Drain chickpeas and mix in, cook until onions are soft. Now, add the fried Taro / Colocasia, season with salt and freshly milled black pepper, give the mixture a good stir, then pour in the stock. Bring to the boil, cover and let it simmer for about 7 minutes. Now, take the lid off and continue the cooking for another 5 minutes, by which time the Colocasia should be tender, not mushy and all the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the prepared tahini sauce, mix it in thoroughly, give it 3 minutes to gently bubble, then switch off the heat.

4.      There are 2 ways to serve: hot with plain rice which makes it a meal in itself. You can also serve it at room temperature with Lebanese bread or just on its own.



Suggested websites







Although less fattening than those made from the potato, colocasia chips are equally delicious. Instead of frying the chips, as in the traditional way, I bake them as oven chips. Because of its high starch content, it is advisable to par-boil colocasia, so it becomes much easier to handle.

At home, we used to serve it with Garlic & Sumac dressing on the side, however, you can use whatever sauce you like. 


Serves: 2-3




·         550 g / 1 ¼ lb colocasia

·         1 ½ tbsp vegetable oil

·         Salt and freshly milled black pepper




·         1 fat clove of garlic peeled and crushed to a paste

·         2 tbsp lemon juice

·         4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

·         1 tsp sumac




  1. Wash the colocasia and brush away any earth. Peel the colocasia and slice into chunky chips. Rinse a couple of times with cold water to get rid of the excess starch. Put in a saucepan of water, bring to the boil and cook for six minutes. Drain off the water and dry on kitchen paper.
  2. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 190 °C / 375 °F, then pour the oil into the baking dish and pop it in the oven for five minutes.
  3. Next slide the dried chips gently into the hot oil, giving them a good coating. Season with salt and freshly milled black pepper, pop into the oven for 15 minutes. Take them out and turn them over, bake for another 15 minutes, at this stage, they should reach a light golden colour.
  4. While you are waiting for the chips, simply mix the ingredients for the dressing.
  5. Drain excess fat onto kitchen paper and serve hot, with the dressing in the middle, dip each chip in and enjoy. 


Most books define Kibbeh as a mixture of fine bulgar wheat (burghul) and ground meat. This is true in one sense, but on the other hand, there are other types like Fish Kibbeh or Vegetarian Kibbeh. Therefore, we could say that kibbeh is a mixture of bulgar wheat and onions with either meat, fish or vegetable. The most commonly known by Westerners is the meat one that I will start with.  


Meat Kibbeh is basically a mixture of fine bulgar wheat (burghul), chopped onions and ground meat which is traditionally lamb. It is versatile because it can be served in a variety of ways: Raw, Baked and Kibbeh Balls (the ones that are deep fried and usually served as a starter). The latter is also used in soups or dishes made with sauces.


Kibbeh b’ Saniyeh (Baked Meat Kibbeh)


It is the easiest to make and actually, you could prepare it the day before, half baked and finish off the next day. You need lean lamb meat, that is why people go for the leg. However, I noticed recently that some brands of minced lamb are extremely good in terms of lean meat and have a low fat content. If you prefer the traditional way, then ask your butcher to prepare the meat for you including deboning, removing the fat and mincing. Kibbeh is also traditionally baked in a round baking dish, but a rectangular one is also fine.    One more basic rule to mention is that whatever amount of meat you have, use less than half bulgar wheat to make the kibbeh. 



Serves 4 or more


For the filling

  • 1 – 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 65g / 2½ oz pine nuts. If you are allergic to nuts, you can omit it
  • 300g / 11oz  onions finely chopped
  • 300g / 11oz minced lamb
  • Salt to taste &freshly milled black pepper
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tbsp pomegranate syrup (optional, see glossary) 


For Kibbeh


  • 2 medium onions peeled and chopped
  • 500g/1lb 2 oz minced lamb
  • 225g/8 oz fine bulgar wheat (burghul), preferably brown (see glossary)  
  • Salt to taste and freshly milled black pepper
  • 2 generous tsp ground allspice & 1 tsp ground cinnamon. Alternatively, use Kibbeh spices that are available at Lebanese grocers 
  • Vegetable oil to drizzle at the final stage
  • A small bowl of iced water to dip your fingers in


You also need a non-stick baking dish measuring 23 x 18 and 5 cm deep,

(9 x 7 x 2 inch)






  1. Heat up the oil in a medium-sized deep frying pan and sauté the chopped onions for 2 – 3 minutes then mix in the meat, stirring from time to time to break the lumps. If using pine nuts, add half way through and cook until meat is browned. Season with all the prepared spices, taste and adjust, give it a good stir and switch off the heat. If using pomegranate syrup, stir in last and mix well. Leave mixture on the side while preparing the kibbeh.




  1. It is better to prepare the bulgar wheat (burghul) first. Put the bulgar wheat in a sieve and rinse it with cold water a couple of times, then squeeze it with your hands to remove excess water. Transfer to a bowl and keep it aside.


  1. Put chopped onions in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Keeping the food processor running, add the meat in batches, followed by the spices and blitz until everything is smoothly combined. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, and start mixing in the burghul,  this is when you need to  moisten your hands with the cold water so you could manipulate or knead the mixture with ease, keep on mixing and kneading, moistening your hands in between, until all the burghul is combined. Return the mixture to food processor and blend for one minute or two until you achieve a smooth malleable kibbeh that looks like a paste. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. At that stage I like to chill it for ½ an hour before assembling.




  1. Prepare again a small bowl of iced water to dip your hands if necessary
  2. Lightly grease the baking dish with vegetable oil
  3. Now, divide the kibbeh dough in halves. Take the first half and divide it into 4 balls. Spread them within an equal distance from each other in the baking dish. Flatten each ball to about ½ cm / ¼ inch thickness. When necessary, moisten your hands with water and smooth down the kibbeh so in the end you have one uniform piece that covers the bottom of the baking dish. Now spread the filling evenly all over.
  4. For the top part, divide as before the remaining half. Now because you need to cover the filling it becomes a little trickier. Dampen your hands with the cold water, take each ball and flatten it between your palms to the same thickness as before and lay it on top of the filling. If it is a rectangular or square baking dish, start from one corner, repeat the same process with all of them until you cover the filling including edges. Again smooth it together so it is uniform.
  5. Cover and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes so that it cuts better.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 190 °C/ 375 °F
  7. With a table knife, mark 4 quarters on the kibbeh. Starting with the first quarter, draw deep geometrical lines to achieve lozenges or square shapes (about 5 cm / 2 inches). Do likewise with the rest, you may need from time to time to moisten the knife with either water or oil. Finally, make a hole in the middle of the baking dish and drizzle the top layer with vegetable oil.
  8. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until the kibbeh has shrunk from the sides and is golden brown.
  9. Serve hot, warm or even cold with yoghurt or fresh tomato salad, delicious also with Hoummous Bi Tahini.

Taratoor (Tahini Sauce) is an integral part of Lebanese cuisine. It is used either as an accompaniment or in the actual cooking of certain dishes. Taratoor that is used as an accompaniment to a dish should have a creamy like light mayonnaise consistency, if it is intended as a cooking sauce, then it should be a lighter consistency similar to single cream.


Makes 325ml




  • 2 fat cloves of garlic peeled and crushed to a paste
  • 85 ml / 3fl oz  lemon juice
  • 165 ml / 5 ½ fl oz tahini paste
  • 150-200ml / 5 – 7fl oz water
  • Salt and freshly milled black pepper




  1. Add about 1 tbsp lemon juice to the crushed garlic and mix. Now, tip the tahini into the garlic mixture and gradually stir in alternating between water and the remainder of lemon juice. You’ll have a lumpy paste to start, but don’t worry, keep stirring with the spoon until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined and the sauce has reached a creamy consistency. Taste and adjust if necessary.
  2. If you are using the sauce as an accompaniment you leave it with a creamy thickness.
  3. If you are using it for cooking, thin it down so it is better absorbed by other cooking ingredients.