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lentil kibbeh pie

Lentil Kibbeh Pie is a vegan riff on Yotam Ottolenghi’s delicious Open Kibbeh from his cookbook, Jerusalem. This layered, savory open pie is easy to make by baking layers of bulgar wheat, seasoned lentils, mushrooms and sumac-spiked tahini sauce. Full of herbs and warm spices, too. It is a perfect for dinner, to snack on, and even taking on picnics.

lentil pieCooking the {cook}books

Having plenty of time on my hands lately has made for more adventurous stints in the kitchen. Since March, I’ve been folding down pages from a pile of cookbooks, and working through them. Diana Henry’s latest, as well as this gorgeous Romanian cookbook from Irina Georgescu, have been favourite additions to my obscenely-enormous cookbook collection. I shudder to think how much I’ve spent over the years! But recently I thumbed through an old favourite, making the above-mentioned dish, from the chef who only needs one name for recognition, Ottolenghi.

Andrew and I both absolutely loved the deep, homey flavours, scooping up every morsel with a lettuce leaf pinched between our fingers. The layers of bulgur wheat, seasoned lamb and tahini sauce were easy to put together – even if it wasn’t quite a 30-minute meal. But that’s kind of okay in the drifting, amorphous time we’re in right now. Meals that are easy enough, just requiring a bit of time, not too much skill, but adventurous enough to satisfy a desire for different. And to kill time. Because, let’s face it, life is a bit samey. Not for everyone, of course. The essential workers knocking their pans in to keep the rest of us safe, healthy, fed and transported, they aren’t bored, I’m sure.

But for unemployed foodie-types like me, a new dinner recipe can be as good as a rest. A rest from tedium.

lentil kibbeh pie What is Lentil Kibbeh Pie like?

And that is what this vegan recipe is for. Even while I was eating the original recipe from Ottolenghi I was thinking of how I might give it a fiber-rich makeover. I knew I would need to amp up the spices – lentils can be so dull! And I wanted it to be as delicious warm from the oven as it would be to pick at if, god forbid, there was a leftover slab lurking in the kitchen. I also wished it to only gently nod to the meatiness of the original. Always I want my vegan and vegetarian dishes to be themselves rather than an imitation.

middle eastern lentil pieIn truth, I thought I would have to cook this recipe a few times. I tasted as I cooked, of course, adding some surprising but useful elements to pull it all together. And I think it must have been first-time lucky. Well, at least we really liked it – you will have to make it and see for yourself. The texture is slightly toothsome from the mint-flecked bulgur wheat crust, and soft from the lentil and mushroom topping. And not forgetting the crunch from creamy pine nuts. As for the taste, this lentil kibbeh pie balances many of the spices so redolent of the Middle East. And includes such odd bedfellows as pomegranate molasses and a whisper of umami-heavy Marmite (the latter is totally optional and, of course, very British!). You might have to trust me. 😉

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What you need for this recipe

An 8-inch diameter loose-bottomed or spring-form baking tin

Bulgur wheat (blitz in a blender to get typical coarse bulgur wheat fine) – or couscous



Olive oil


Cooked firm lentils, like Puy or Beluga (I use Merchant Gourmet Beluga Lentils )

Allspice, cinnamon, cumin and coriander

Pine nuts – these tend to be cheapest at Middle Eastern and Asian supermarkets

Fresh parsley and mint – as above

Tahini paste – or you could use hummus!

Sumac – optional

Pomegranate molasses

Marmite or Vegemite – optional (adds depth)

Putting it together is straightforward, as shown above in the slideshow. Full instructions in the recipe card, below. If you need to make it lower in fat, see the recipe card for how you might do so.

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vegan lentil kibbeh pieWhat is a kibbeh anyway?

Meaning “shape of a ball” in Arabic, kibbeh are typically meat and bulgur wheat balls, stuffed with even more meat, sweet spices and pine nuts, then deep fried. Tasty torpedos, kibbeh are superbly crisp, savory snacks. But helluva tricky to make. Hence, a deconstructed version kindly created by Mr Ottolenghi for us in the West is welcome. Although, I daresay with all of this time on our hands we could have a go at a more authentic kibbeh recipe.

vegan kibbeh pie

lentil kibbeh pie served with garden salad, but even better served with baba ganoush!

So, will you give this a try? I pinky-promise that you will not only enjoy the process of making this lovely dish, but will scoop up every last morsel. Perhaps not, however, with a lettuce leaf. 🙂

I served my second testing of this vegan lentil kibbeh pie with homemade baba ganoush (recipe soon!) and a very lemony tomato, red onion and cucumber salad, with loads of herbs from the garden. And lettuce leaves.

lentil kibbeh pie

lentil keema pie
4.91 from 10 votes

Middle Eastern Lentil Kibbeh Pie

A vegan riff on Yotam Ottolenghi's delicious Open Kibbeh, baked layers of bulgar wheat, seasoned lentils and mushrooms, all topped with a sumac-spiked tahini sauce.

Course DInner
Cuisine MIddle Eastern, vegan
Keyword bulgar wheat, kibbeh, lentils
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6 servings
Calories 430 kcal
Author kellie anderson


Base Layer

  • 150 g bulgar wheat or wholemeal couscous
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 225 ml water boiling
  • 1 tsp dried mint optional
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Lentil Layer

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves peeled, finely minced
  • 1 red onion finely chopped (about 185-200G)
  • 200 g chestnut/cremini mushrooms finely chopped
  • tsp ground allspice
  • tsp ground coriander
  • tsp ground cumin
  • tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tsp Marmite or Vegemite optional, but adds to depth of flavour
  • 250 g cooked firm lentils see Notes for more info
  • 50 g pine nuts divided use
  • 4 tbsp chopped parsley divided use

Tahini Topping

  • 50 g light tahini
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 50 ml water
  • tsp ground sumac optional
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan/180F. Line a 20cm/8-inch spring-form cake tin/loose-bottomed tin with crumpled baking parchment. You want it to come up the sides most of the way.

  2. Pour the bulgur wheat and flaxseed into a bowl, along with the salt and dried mint. Pour over the boiling water and cover with a plate. Leave to absorb for 20 minutes. Stir in the 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a wide skillet and saute the onion and garlic over a medium heat until soft. Add the spices and cook for one minute, followed by the mushrooms. Cook down until the liquid that is released is almost completely gone. Stir in the pomegranate molasses and Marmite, followed by the cooked lentils most of the pine nuts and most of the parsley. Grind in some black pepper if you wish.

  4. Use your hands to squish up the rehydrated bulgur wheat and flaxseed into a quasi-dough, and press firmly into the bottom of the lined tin. Spread over the seasoned lentil and mushrooms and pop in the oven to bake for 20 minutes.

  5. While this is in the oven, stir together the tahini lemon juice, and water. Add a good pinch of salt and the sumac.

  6. Remove the pie from the oven and carefully spread over the tahini sauce. Top with the remaining pine nuts plus the sesame seeds, and return to the oven to bake for 10 minutes, or until the pine nuts are browned a bit. Sprinkle over chopped parsley and mint. Cut into wedges and serve warm or room temperature.

Recipe Notes

The Lentils - I used a pouch of cooked Merchant Gourmet Beluga Lentils for ease. If you are boiling up from scratch, do use a firm lentil like Puy. You want the cooked lentils to still hold their shape and not be at all mushy.

The Flavourings - I tried to recreate the depth of flavour that you get in an authentic lamb or beef kibbeh by using the sticky, savoury condiment Marmite. If you don't have this or the Vegemite, just leave it out. The pomegranate molasses is also not authentic but is essential for the rounded flavour that I hope you will find when you eat this dish.

The Bulgur Wheat - My bulgur wheat was quite coarse so I whizzed it up a bit in my blender. It might not be necessary but if yours is also coarse, do break it down a bit if you can as I think it might help it stick together. You may use couscous in place of the bulgur wheat. 

Lower-Fat Option - to cut down on the fat (even though they are healthy, nutritious fats, they might not suit all of you) eliminate the tahini layer - or replace with ft-reduced hummus - and use oil-spray or vegetable stock to cook the vegetables.

Nutrition Facts
Middle Eastern Lentil Kibbeh Pie
Amount Per Serving (6 g)
Calories 430 Calories from Fat 171
% Daily Value*
Fat 19g29%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Sodium 244mg11%
Potassium 443mg13%
Carbohydrates 51g17%
Fiber 15g63%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 18g36%
Calcium 98mg10%
Vitamin C 9mg11%
Vitamin A 304IU6%
Iron 6mg33%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


20 thoughts on “Lentil Kibbeh Pie (vegan recipe)

  1. Looks delicious but way too much fat for my taste and health

    1. kellie anderson says:

      Thanks for your honesty. If it otherwise appeals, eliminate the tahini topping (which is actually very healthy but of course is high in mostly monounsaturated fat), and just cook the ingredients in vegetable stock or oil spray. This will cut back on the fat but hopefully still give a good flavour. I’ve edited the recipe to give this alternative.

  2. Mr A says:

    This is outstanding! The warm spices and rich flavours are so deeply delicious. What an amazing way to make lentils the star in such a brilliant dish.

    1. kellie anderson says:

      You are pretty keen on it. You didn’t mind testing this one out a few times, did you? 🙂

  3. A wonderful alternative to original kibbeh.

    1. kellie anderson says:

      Thanks so much, Dolly. I really appreciate the supportive comment 🙂

      1. My pleasure, dear Kellie!

  4. Recipettes says:

    Wow! It looks yummy and I think it tastes that good as well!

    1. kellie anderson says:

      Thanks so much! I do hope you get around to trying it sometime soon 🙂

  5. Rachel says:

    Loved reading this post. The lentils we have are mushy kind so might have to use some ground beef from the freezer! And scrounge around for some couscous. Thank you for another awesome post xxx

  6. Rachel says:

    Loved reading this post. Might have to use the beef in the freezer and scrounge around for some couscous! Thank you for sharing, mom xxx

  7. Julie Fitzpatrick says:

    This looks delicious. I can’t to try it!

    1. kellie anderson says:

      I really hope you do, Julie. Andrew says it is one of my best recipes. I think he’d eat it every week if I made it. Let me know if you do. 🙂

  8. This looks super delicious, flavoursome and comforting. I love the sound of it, Ill try making it over the weekend, thanks!

    1. kellie anderson says:

      Thanks so much, Niki for this awesome comment. Honestly, I really really hope you do make it some time. It is really good. Obviously because I had a head start having made Ottolenghi’s meaty one first as a flavour template! xx

  9. Wow this looks amazing – I am lucky enough to be still employed but it means not so much time for cooking. I am bookmarking this with my celebration/dinner party recipes in hope of a time when I will be sharing food more with family and friends.

    BTW your comment about lentils being dull is interesting – I really love lentils but like a lot of vegetarian food they need good seasoning to shine and this is one of the challenges I find when trying to take meat out of a recipe – I am never quite sure how much extra flavouring I need but I always know it is more.

    1. kellie anderson says:

      Indeed! I always at the very least add a couple of bay leaves and usually a mashed garlic clove to the cooking and then go from there. And I am always seeking a hit of umami, hence the MArmite/Vegemite inclusion. There but not noticeable as those products 🙂 Oh, do make this for yourself first to see if you want to play with the flavours next time 🙂

  10. Sally says:

    The flavours sound as vibrant as the colours in your glorious pics. I need to get my hands on that Diana Henry book

  11. Desicart says:

    Very nice recipe. We have to try. So easy, flavorful and delicious.

  12. Lily says:

    This is an outstanding dish….and it looks sooo yummy & more easy to make come with delicious sound….i will trying to make it few days later….Thanks for sharing……!

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