Stewed Rice Kubba- Easy Middle Eastern Dumplings

by Sarah on April 17, 2010

Kubba rice

It was my husband who first made kubba in our family because he was bored with my cooking. Of course, he never actually told me this but simply went out and bought a pile of Middle Eastern cookbooks.

I ignored them.

Then he entered new territory, our small one cabinet kitchen, but after all his effort, instead of semolina dumplings stuffed with meat in a light tangy tomato soup, all his dumplings stuck together into a congealed clump of goo, which really wasn’t his fault, the cookbook was seriously faulty. This culinary disaster coincided with the visit of my eighteen year old cousin, Adam, from Philadelphia, who was recruited to eat my husband’s first ever attempt at kubba. From the bedroom, I heard my husband ask,

“Adam, would you like to try ethnic Iraqi food, which I just made today?” My first thought was “NOOOOOOOOOOO! Don’t eat it!” but Adam showed himself to be a very congenial fellow “sure!” I peaked from my room to see if he needed rescuing but he was munching away saying “very, good, very good” every once in awhile between bites. I had the highest respect for Adam, first that he ate the dumplings without complaining and second, he didn’t leave any for me! After a couple more tries the cookbook was left untouched and it was my turn to try my hand at dumpling making, with a little help from my grandmother things have never been the same.

There are several kubba recipes listed on this blog but here is a new version using rice and chicken breast for the shell, which is a great alternative to the usual semolina based dumplings during Passover or for those who do not eat gluten. It is actually easier to use this combination instead of the semolina dough, which has a tendency to dry out quickly so that only small batches are made at a time. Rice kubba also hold up better in the soup, which is convenient if it is being made ahead of time.

This recipe was taught to me by my Aunt Hadassa who makes kubba with rice throughout the year and not only during Passover. Varda Shilo who wrote a Kurdish cookbook adds matza meal in addition to rice and ground meat in her shell. Nawal Nasaralla, author of the wonderful Iraqi cookbook, Delights from the Garden of Eden, uses partially cooked rice and cornstarch to create a kubba  (kubbat halab) which are fried (I am not sure if they would hold up to stewing).

rice kubba

Rice Kubba

2 cups of long grain rice, washed (I used basmati)

400 grams chicken breast (or very lean beef) roughly cut

Salt, pepper

A pinch of turmeric

Soak the rice in water for 3 hours. Drain completely. Add the drained rice, chicken and spices into a food processor and process until the mixture comes together. Alternatively, reduce the ground meat to 200 grams and add 200 grams of matza meal. Use this as the shell for kubba such as kubba hamousta, tomato kubba and beet kubba. My friend Osnat Moshe uses a similar recipe to make kotel pishra, yet another version of kubba.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Celeste April 17, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Looks like amazing comfort food.
That carrot in the soup reminds me of my Grannies cooking when she made broth from an old stewing hen. Then she added her homemade noodles.
Miss both the noodles and Grannie.
As usual, your photos are bright and inspiring.


Sarah April 18, 2010 at 1:33 am

you’re right, there is nothing like a grandmother’s cooking


yael April 18, 2010 at 12:43 am

we’ve got tot try those Kubeh because i think it’s the only kind that is gluten free. Abi would love those.


Sarah April 18, 2010 at 1:35 am

I want to try making the cornflour and rice fried kubba, I ate them at Ima’s restaurant in Jerusalem and have a recipe for them in Delights by Nasrallah (they are very yummy).
That tasted even better than the fried ground rice and meat kibbeh I made when you were here.


lisaiscooking April 19, 2010 at 7:58 am

I hadn’t seen rice used for dumplings like this before. They sound delicious with chicken, and your broth looks fantastic!


Sarah April 22, 2010 at 1:36 am

thanks! These dumplings are very rustic, filling and tasty. They are also easy to freeze, all you have to do is make a broth and pop a couple in.


OysterCulture April 21, 2010 at 10:41 am

Looks so flavorful and the perfect feel good pick-me-up treat!


Shimon May 28, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Shalom Chevreh,
A quick story about my life in Jerusalem and Kubba.
Some 20 yrs ago, my sister and I lived in Emek Rafiyim. She was going out with a lovely Kurdi boy. His mum made every Shabbat lunch, this amazing food for her huge family. I became addicted to her Kubba. It was like honey soup with these delicate dumplings and veggies. OMG. I cried when they split up; and I could get my Shabbat “fix”.
But there are many fantastic little restaurants that I found over the years, which makes a decent version of this wonderful and cheap soup.
Enjoy with love. It will change your life and taste-buds forever.
Shanah Ha’Ba B’Yerushalim.


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