Go Iraqi: Kubbeh Shwandar

To all those of Iraqi origin who are looking at the title of this recipe and thinking “she must be an Iraqi” – you're wrong! 

My background is originally Polish but, I reckon that if I can cook recipes from other parts of the world, why not this one? The word “kubbeh” means “ball” and “shwandar” means “beetroot” in Arabic; this sweet and sour dish is one of many tasty traditional Iraqi dishes that are a bit time consuming to prepare but well worth the effort!


  • 1.5kg raw beetroot, peeled and left whole
  • 700g minced beef
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 1 small bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 and ½ cups coarse semolina
  • 1 and ½ cups rice flour
  • 1 and ½ cups cold water


  • Oil, for frying
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • Boiling water
  • Juice of 6 lemons
  • 4-5tbsp sugar
  • Salt, to taste


Place the beetroot in a medium saucepan and cover with water.

Bring to a boil and simmer for 40 minutes.

Set aside until cool enough to handle.

In one large bowl, mix the minced beef, onion, parsley, salt and pepper until very well combined.

In a second large bowl, mix together the semolina and the rice flour.

Slowly add the water to the second bowl, half a cup at a time, blending in with the semolina and the rice flour, starting off by mixing with a fork and eventually mixing by hand. You may need to add a bit more water or rice flour depending on the consistency, but the end result should be a soft type of dough mixture.

Break off a large walnut-sized piece of the “dough” mixture and roll into a ball.

Flatten the ball with the pad of your thumb so that the shape resembles a deflated ball in the middle.

Place a heaped teaspoon of the meat mixture in this indent and press the casing edges together and gently roll the casing to surround the meat mixture, ending with the ball shape once again.

Place the resulting kubbeh on a large plate or platter.

Repeat this process until you have used up all the casing “dough”.

Shape the remaining meat mixture into little meatballs and place on a separate large plate or platter.

In a very large pot, heat the oil, add the chopped onion and fry until soft and light golden in colour.

Add the meatballs and fry gently on all sides until browned.

Gently pour in enough boiling water so that the pot is a third full of liquid.

Gently stir the meatballs.

Add the sugar and lemon juice.

Add the salt to your taste.

Bring liquid to a boil and reduce flame to allow liquid to simmer.

Give the sauce another gentle stir.

Gently add the kubbeh to the simmering liquid.

Remove the beetroot from the cooled cooking liquid and cut into 2cm thick slices.

Add the beetroot and the beetroot liquid to the large pot and bring the sauce back to a simmer.

Cook, partially covered, for approximately one and half hours to allow the flavours to develop.

Adjust the sweet and sour flavouring accordingly.

Serve with plain steamed rice.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/197361

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