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Kobeba bil Bungar

Dumplings stuffed with meat, cooked in a tangy Beetroot Soup



Cook Time:

4 hours

Can I adapt this easily as a vegetarian or vegan?


Of Iraqi origin, this is a recipe of many parts, but it is well worth the effort when you bite into the deliciously juicy and satisfying kobeba and taste the warming, tangy soup.



  • 10 raw beetroot; washed, topped and tailed

  • 1½ ltrs cold water

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 3 ½ lemons; juiced

  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar

  • 1 tablespoon. salt

  • extra water (about 500ml)


  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper

  • 2 baby potatoes

  • 20-25g parsley leaves (without the stalks)

  • 2 large spring onions

  • 500g minced beef or lamb

  • 1 teaspoon baharat

  • 500g ground rice

  • 370g semolina

  • 50ml cold water


Part One 

(Can be done up to a day in advance)

Step One

Boil the beetroots in 300ml of water for about 1 hour until they are just soft enough for a skewer to pierce them

Step Two

Remove the beetroot from the boiling water, and plunge them into 1.5l of cold water


Step Three

Rub the beetroot to remove the skins. Leave the skins to soak in the cold water 

Step Four

Cut 5 of the beetroot into wedges about 1cm thick and set aside to compeletly cool

The remaining beetroot are not needed for this recipe, but will last for 4 days in an airtight container in the fridge

Step Five

Seive the beetroot skins out of the cold water, ensuring the water is saved. 

Combine both of the beetroot flavoured waters and set aside

Part Two

Step One

Finely mince the parsley and spring onions 

Step Two

Thinly grate the potatoes into a mixing bowl of cold salty water, then drain the water and squeeze them dry

Step Three

Mix the parsley, onion, spices and potatoes into the minced meat, season and set aside

Step Four

In a large bowl mix the ground rice and semolina

Step Five

Gradually pour in the water, until a firm but pliabe dough is formed, adding more water if necessary

Step Six

Cover with cling film and set aside for 10 minutes so that the water can fully absorb into the rice and semolina

Step Seven 

Using wet hands, assemble the dumplings: 

Form a flat circle of dough in the palm of your hand, place a small amount of meat in the centre of the dough and close your hand around it, encasing the meat with the dough

Pinch the top together to form a ball and roll in your hands until smooth. 

Each kobeba should be about the size of a golf ball, any left-over meat or dough can be formed into their own balls

Part Three

Step One

Lightly fry the sliced beetroot in a large saucepan with the olive oil for a couple of minutes until warm

Step Two

Slowly pour the beetroot water into the saucepan through a seive

Step Three

Add the salt, sugar, water and lemon juice and bring to the boil

Step Four

Lower the temperature so that the broth is at a gentle simmer, and carefully place the kobeba dumplings into the saucepan. They will initially sink to the bottom of the pan. Don't add more than cover the bottom of the saucepan

Step Five

Gently stir the broth so some of the kobeba start to float, and fil in the gaps so that each new one has space at the bottom of the pan. If the pan becomes too ful, transfer some of the broth to another pan and continue - it's better not to overcrowd the dumplings

Step Six

When all of the dumplings have been added to the soup stir one last time to prevent sticking

Step Seven

Cover the saucepan and leave to simmer for half an hour to forty-five minutes, depending on the size of your pans. When all of the kobeba are floating they are ready to eat. If you're not sure, slice one open - if the dough is still slightly firm and the meat is cooked, then they are done.


If you don't have white pepper at home, black will do. In Sudan, kobeba dough was made with a mixture of ground rice and minced beef, but once the community left and money was a bit tighter a ground rice/semolina mixture became the norm. I think it is tastier that way, as the semolina provides a nice bite to the dumplings.

To make vegan: substitute mince meat with quorn or mushroom mince

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