Brought to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants in the 19th century, the noble kibbeh fast became one of Yucatán’s favorite snacks.
But in reality, kibis, as they are known in Yucatán, are not a single snack but rather is a family of dishes based on grains, spiced ground meat, and onions.
Popular varieties of kibi in Yucatán include traditional middle eastern kibis made with minced mutton, as well as the raw (unfried) kibi crudo.
But as often happens when cuisine travels from one part of the world to another, Yucatán has put its own spin on it.
Yucatecan kibis are almost always served with habanero peppers, as well as a healthy serving of finely chopped pickled cabbage (repollo), and often stuffed with the region’s favorite cheese, the Dutch Edam.
Kibis can be found in restaurants all over Mérida, not just Lebanese ones, and are also a fan favorite at sporting events and at the beach.
Kibis are also an extremely popular botana and are served up for “free” to patrons at bars when ordering drinks.
But there is one undeniable truth about these deep-fried treats that is hard to avoid — they are not exactly healthy food.
But if you really get down to it, other than the deep frying, Yucatecan kibis do not contain anything that unhealthy and could even be considered rather balanced.
Though it is possible to bake kibis instead of deep frying them, there is no denying that no matter what you do, that crispy outer shell can only really be achieved by submerging the kibi in boiling oil.
Now, we are by no means saying that the following recipe is truly healthy, but it does considerably reduce the amount of oil needed while still achieving that desired crunchy mouth feel.
- ½ kg wheat
- ¾ kilograms of ground meat, almost any kind but not poultry
- 1 large white onion
- Handful of peppermint
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Handful of chopped olives (optional)
- Handful of raisins (optional)
- 1 large tomato
- Salt (to taste)
- Pepper (to taste)
- Powdered cinnamon (to taste)
- Powdered paprika (to taste)
- 1 bottle of olive oil
- 1 habanero pepper
- One-quarter ball of grated Edam cheese
The main difference between this and other similar recipes is to cook the meat separately to avoid the need to fry the kibi all the way through.
Begin by cooking two thirds of the meat of your choice with a dash of olive oil in a pan or pot. Add finely chopped onion, garlic, tomato, and optional ingredients like olives and raisins. Make sure to cook properly but not to dry it out.
Take the remaining third of your raw meat and mix with cinnamon, paprika, chopped peppermint, salt, pepper, and your wheat (after washing and drying it.)
Once the meat is ready, it’s time to mold the kibis together by hand. Take a small ball of the uncooked seasoned meat, make a hole in the middle and fill it with cooked meat and grated Edam cheese. Close the shell and set it aside for frying.
Preheat a dry pot and add oil once it is extremely hot. This is to make sure the olive oil takes on the right temperature almost immediately (this is key).
Once your kibi starts to turn golden, remove it from the pot and set it aside on a paper towel to drain the excess oil.
Garnish your delicious kibis with chopped onions, pickled cabbage, chile habanero, and enjoy.