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Difference between Kibbeh and Falafel

Kibbeh and falafel are staple dishes in Middle Eastern cuisine where they are eaten as appetizers.

One might assume that they are the same dish especially with how they are both rolled into small ball shapes and browned. 

Though falafel and kibbeh may look similar, they are actually different dishes, they are also made using different ingredients and they have different flavors as well. 

In this post, we talk about the difference between kibbeh and falafel, the different ingredients that they are made from, how they are prepared, and also how they are used. 

Falafel vs kibbeh

These dishes look alike, however there are slight differences between the two of them.

Falafel is traditionally made from chickpeas or fava beans blended with spices. The resulting paste is shaped into balls or patties and then typically fried.

Kibbeh is a meatball that consists of bulgur wheat together with lamb or goat meat pounded into a fine paste and formed into a ball shape.

kibbeh could be baked, deep fried or even boiled.

What is falafel?

sandwich falafel

A spicy dish from the Middle East. 

It is also known as Felafel or ta’amia. 

It is made from chickpeas and fava beans. The ratio of chickpeas to fava beans could vary across different regions.

Sometimes, it is made with chickpeas alone, and in some regions, these fritters are made using only fava beans

The beans are ground into a thick paste and seasoned with a variety of spices  

Flour or egg could also be used as binding agents.

The spiced chickpea paste is rolled into small balls or circular patties. Falafel is traditionally deep fried in oil. 

The spices balls are often eaten on their own, or as an appetizer where they is served together with tahini.  

They are also used in pocket sandwiches also called falafel, where they are stuffed in pita alongside slices of cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce and tahini sauce  

These fritters are popularly sold by street vendors  

How falafel is made

It is made from ground chickpeas and fava beans 

The chickpeas are soaked overnight and the beans are ground into a paste before used.

Then they are mixed with a variety of seasoning including cumin , coriander, parsley, onion and garlic. 

Flour, breadcrumbs or eggs could be added into the mixture as binders to help the falafel maintain its shape.  

The ground mixture could be hand shaped like patties or into ball before they are deep fried

A mold could also be used to shape these snacks 

Falafel could also be topped with sesame seeds before frying 

The pre-made falafel mix could be found in grocery stores, it makes preparing falafel easier without the need to soak the beans overnight or ground them.

What is kibbeh?

Kibbeh is a popular Middle Eastern meatball,  

The word kibbeh is from an Arabic verb meaning to form into a ball or a circular shape. 

This dish consists of a mixture of bulgur wheat, meat, and other ingredients that are formed into ball 

Traditionally, it is made from lamb or goat meat, it can also be made from beef. Bulgur is used as a binder.

This dish also contains potatoes, pumpkins, and tomatoes.

It can be seasoned with varieties of spices include black pepper, nutmeg, sumac, and cumin 

There are varieties that make use of rice in place of bulgur. These meatball can also be stuffed. 

The flavor depends on the type of meat used and also the spices used.

The meat is blended together with the bulgur until it is smooth. Traditionally, it is pounded with a mortar and pestle, however, a food processor can yield equal result.

The mixture is rolled into a ball shape and cooked. 

There are different varieties of kibbeh. This meatball can be baked, fried, and it can also be served raw  

Fried kibbeh is known as kibbeh nabilseeyah. Raw kibbeh is kibbeh nayyeh, and Baked kibbeh is known as Kibbeh bil seniyeh 

Kibbeh is popularly served as a snack topped with olive oil, and it can also be eaten with a flatbread.