James Whetlor's kibbeh nayyeh

James Whetlor shares the recipe for a Middle Eastern classic with a twist - in the form of goat, of course. The founder of Cabrito Goat Meat swears by his version of this raw meat starter, which he demonstrated at Masterclass supported by Sanpellegrino during the 2019 Melbourne Food & Wine Festival.

Makes 4

You might be tempted to use mince for this, but the texture of hand-chopped meat is so much better. Traditional recipes knead the mix to a paste, but I prefer the looser texture of briefly mixed ingredients, like a tartare. Feel free to mix the ingredients more vigorously or even knead them to a paste if you prefer.

It goes without saying that this recipe requires really fresh meat; if you’re feeling brave, include fresh kid heart. I love kibbeh nayeh – its subtle, fresh, zesty flavour is the opposite of what people expect from goat meat.


400g lean kid with no sinew (leg or loin is best)

80g fine bulgur (or freekeh)

1 small onion, very finely chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

Chilli flakes, black pepper and cinnamon, to taste

1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley or mint, finely chopped

Olive oil, toasted pine nuts and toasted flatbreads or white cabbage leaves, to serve


1. Rinse the bulgur under cold running water until the water runs clear. Soak the bulgur in warm water in a bowl for 30 minutes, then drain, squeezing out excess water with your hands.

2. Meanwhile, rub a large pinch of salt into the onion and set aside, and chop the meat. When chopped to your liking, add the lemon juice, spices (easy on cinnamon) and salt to taste. Leave for 10 minutes. 

3. Rinse the onion and dry well on paper towel, then add to the meat mixture along with the parsley or mint and bulgur (you need less than a third of the weight of the meat - just add enough to get texture you want). Mix well and add more salt, spices or lemon to taste. 

4. Drizzle with olive oil and scatter with a few toasted pine nuts. Serve with flatbreads or sweet white cabbage leaves to scoop up the kibbeh.