Kipe is the Dominicanized version of the Lebbanese Kibbeh, and is made of minced beef and bulgur. It is one of our most popular appetizers.
We're not from around here. Kipes are proof. One of the things that marvel me about the Americas is, that for the most part, we are all young nations, some more stable and prosperous than others, but we all have one thing in common: a short memory. This is well illustrated in Dominican society by our inability to bear long grudges.
Nations around the world are still fighting wars, with words or with weapons, that started so many generations ago that in some cases nobody remembers how it all began. In contrast, the Dominican Republic consists of people who arrived from many continents, all amalgamated into one. We are, after all, a nation of people who all came from somewhere else: Taínos, Africans, Europeans, Asians. They came in waves, each giving us bits and pieces of their culture to make what is today the Dominican Republic.
What is kipe?
Kipes is the Dominicanized version of the Lebanese kibbeh. They were brought to our shores by a wave of Middle Eastern immigrants that arrived in the Dominican Republic at the end of the 19th century.
Kipe vs. kibbeh
Kipe has undergone some drastic changes from the traditional Middle Eastern kibbeh, starting with the preparation, and just as importantly, using beef in lieu of lamb (which isn't popular in the DR), and leaving out many spices and herbs (like mint, cumin, pine nuts, and others). Kipe is made with minced beef, bulgur, and an assortment of spices that may differ from the original kibbeh.
About our recipe
After the recipe for Dominican Cake, this is the recipe that seems to give people the most trouble, this is why we have added a video and detailed instructions that will help beginners get a good result on the first try.
The most important thing to remember is to read the recipe carefully, and follow the instructions to a T. If you already know what you're doing then, by all means, stray from the instructions as these steps are just what I've found to work for me.
[Recipe + Video] Kipe (Dominican-style kibbeh)
- 1 cup bulgur, [Amazon affiliate link]
- 1 qt [1 lt] of water, , divided (may not use all)
- 1 lb [0.4 kg] of ground beef
- 1 bell pepper, , very finely diced
- 2 basil leaves, , chopped
- 1 small onion, , very finely diced
- 3 teaspoon of salt, (or more, to taste)
- ½ cup tomato sauce
- ¼ cup raisins
- 2 cups oil for frying
- ¼ teaspoon of pepper
Before you start
- Soak bulgur: Put the wheat in a bowl and add enough water to cover and let it rest overnight, stir a couple of times while it rests (see notes).
Seasoning the meat for the kipes
- Make seasoning: Pulse onion, and basil in the food processor until you obtain a coarse paste.
- Season meat: In a bowl, mix meat, bell pepper, basil, and onion. Add a pinch of pepper and 2 teaspoons of salt.
- Combine: Using your hands mix the meat with the vegetables until you get an uniform mixture.
- Separate: Split the meat into thirds and set aside ⅔ of the meat for later use.
To make the filling
- Brown: Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan over medium heat. Add ⅓ of the meat you've taken out. Brown the meat.
- Simmer: Add tomato sauce and mix well. Stir in ½ cup of water and the raisins and simmer over medium heat.When all the liquid has evaporated, remove it from the heat. Let it cool down to room temperature. Set aside.
To assemble the kipes
- Discard water: Drain the leftover water from the bulgur and sieve to get rid of all the water (this is very important!). I suggest squeezing the bulgur with a clean cotton tea towel if you are not sure if there's water left after sieving.
- Mix: Add the remaining raw meat to the bulgur. With your hands mix the bulgur and raw meat, kneading it until it is mixed uniformly. This is a key step, the better mixed this is, the better chances of kipes not breaking apart in the hot oil. Knead for your life! If you want, you can also pulse for a couple of minutes in the food processor for a more compact texture.
- Shape: Put 2 tablespoons of the mixture on the palm of your hands and roll into a ball.Make a deep indentation in the ball by poking it with your index finger.
- Fill: Place 1 tablespoon of the filling in the indentation. Gather around the hole, closing it, and roll the kipe with the palm of your hands making it as compact as possible. Pinch the ends to give it its traditional shape.Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
- Heat oil: Pour oil into a deep pot, and heat over medium-high heat (350 ºF [175 ºF]). The oil has to be very hot, cool oil will make your kipes break down and possibly ruin the oil too.
- Fry: When it is time to fry them give them another quick squeeze to make them even more compact.Being very, very careful with splatters (hot oil and cold liquids do not get along well) fry your kipes, preferably one at a time, dropping them in the oil with a slotted spoon to avoid burning yourself.
- Serve: After frying, the kipe has to be deep brown outside. Open the first one when you are done, if there is any pink part inside it means there is still raw meat, a bad thing, fry the next one longer. Place them on a paper towel to drain excess oil before serving.