Traditional Iraqi oven-baked meat pie-style dish, with layers of bulgur dough and minced meat (كبة موصل)
Kubba Mosul is a popular Iraqi dish made from ground beef or lamb mixed with spices and encased in a bulgur wheat or rice shell, shaped into a round or oval form.
The term “Kubba” finds its origin in the Arabic word “كبة,” signifying a stuffed ball or dumpling. In the context of this dish, it refers to the meat filling enclosed in a shell made of bulgur wheat or rice.
Kubba Mosul essentially means the style of kubba that originates from Mosul, a city with a rich and diverse food culture. It can also be found under various regional names like “kubba kubbi,” “kubba Hamouth (soup),” or “kubba arabiya.” These variations might have slight differences in ingredients and preparation methods.
Traditionally, Kubba Mosul is crafted into a flat, round disc shape, symbolizing the domes of mosques. It is filled with finely minced meat and spices. However, its versatility shines through vegetarian renditions that incorporate ingredients like spinach, potatoes, or aubergine (eggplant).
- bulgur – while bulgur wheat is the traditional choice for the dough, some variations use rice instead, offering a different texture and flavour profile.
- minced meat – you have the option to choose between lamb or beef, as both are equally popular for this dish. I chose lamb because I have a strong preference for its distinct flavour, and I believe that lamb’s specific taste would complement the Middle Eastern dish, especially with the array of spices used.
- spices – when it comes to spices, you can’t truly savour this dish without them; they hold equal importance for both the bulgur dough and the meat filling
Spices play a vital role as the primary flavour enhancers, infusing richness into both the meat layer and bulgur dough. Following the recipe diligently and including all listed spices is essential, as without them, this dish wouldn’t achieve its intended culinary excellence.
- curry powder
The bulgur dough gets its lovely color and a mild earthy flavour from turmeric. The meat filling, on the other hand, is a blend of spices like cinnamon, curry, and cumin, which add warmth and depth.
Cooking & Tips
Using the specified ingredients, I yield a single Kubba tray, measuring approximately 40cm x 25cm
If you prefer a thicker meat filling layer, you can adjust the amount to your liking; however, I recommend keeping all layers relatively thin for the best overall taste and texture.
This dish is suitable for freezing, making it convenient for planning ahead. You can prepare a large portion, and if desired, split it in half. Bake one half on the same day while freezing the other half. When you’re ready to serve, simply take the frozen portion out of the freezer and bake it for a delicious meal. So, whether it’s before or after baking, Kubba Mosul can be easily frozen to accommodate your schedule.
- Meat – while the traditional recipe calls for lamb or beef, you can experiment with poultry like chicken or turkey. It’s essential to use minced meat as it needs to be easily incorporated with the bulgur dough. Keep in mind that the flavour may differ from the classic meat choices, as lamb and beef have their unique richness.
- For a vegetarian twist, you can replace the meat filling with ingredients like spinach, potatoes, or aubergine (eggplant).
- Bulgur – if you’re looking for a gluten-free alternative to bulgur, quinoa can be an option. However, please keep in mind that using quinoa will result in a taste and texture that differ slightly from the traditional dish. Quinoa has a unique character, which can add a distinct twist to your Kubba Mosul. Feel free to give it a try if dietary preferences or restrictions call for it.
I encourage you to explore alternative ingredients like quinoa or poultry in your Kubba Mosul preparation. If you decide to embark on these culinary adventures, I’d be delighted to hear about your experiences! Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below and share your creative twists, as they can inspire and delight fellow food enthusiasts on their own culinary journeys! 🙂
Serving & Presentation
I’ve made Kubba several times. Although it’s traditionally round, I chose squares because I didn’t have a suitable round baking tray. The choice of how to cut it after baking is entirely up to you.
I went for small rectangles, approximately 10cm x 8cm. To accompany it, I served a yogurt dip. Initially, I had expected Kubba to be somewhat dry, so I decided to whip up an Iraqi traditional sauce to go alongside it. To my pleasant surprise, Kubba turned out wonderfully soft and moist, and I found that yogurt wasn’t even necessary but it complemented the dish perfectly.
I also prepared a simple salad to accompany it. I’d recommend adding some steamed or cooked green vegetables for a complete meal.
KUBBA MOSUL – Iraqi meat pie
- 2 onions - finely chopped
- 400 grams minced lamb
- 1/3 cup chopped almonds
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp of finely chopped parsley
- 3-4 tbsp oil
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 – 1 tsp salt - to taste
- 450 grams fine bulgur
- 1/2 tbs turmeric
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- Water as needed
- 40-50 g butter
- Rinse the bulgur thoroughly and soak it in boiling-hot water for about 10 minutes. Drain the bulgur and let it cool. Occasionally fluff it with a fork to prevent sticking.
- Fry the chopped onions for about 10 minutes or until they turn golden brown.
- Add the minced meat and spices, and cook until all the meat's moisture evaporates. Then, add the almonds and parsley and cook for 5 minutes. Drain any excess oil and let it cool.
- Mix the prepared bulgur, meat, and spices in a bowl. Add a little water if needed; it should hold together without falling apart.
- Once everything is well combined, put it in a food processor in several batches and blend, adding a few tablespoons of water if necessary, just enough to form a "dough" that doesn't break apart. To test – It's best to take a piece of dough and flatten it between wet palms; if it doesn't crumble, the dough is ready.
Prepare the Kubba
- Generously coat the baking tray with butter.
- Take a half a portion of the dough, place it in a bowl with a little water, and using wet hands, spread the dough in the baking tray. The dough shouldn't be too thick, just enough to cover the bottom of the tray.
- Add the meat mixture and spread it thinly over the dough.
- For the top part of the dough, take 2 sheets of plastic wrap (place them side by side, slightly overlapping, to have enough space to work with the dough), add the dough, and with wet hands roll out the dough. Use the plastic wrap to transfer the dough layer to the baking tray. It's okay if the entire surface isn't covered or if it cracks. If this happens, take small pieces of dough, roll them between your palms, and fill in the gaps. Then, with wet hands, press everything together to meld with the filling.
- Cut the kubba into squares or triangles (if you're using a round tray) and generously brush with oil.
- Cover the tray with aluminium foil.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Bake the covered kubba for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, reduce the temperature to 180 degrees Celsius and continue baking covered for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, increase the temperature again to 200 degrees Celsius, uncover the tray, and bake for another 10 minutes or until it turns nicely golden brown.