SSI News Blog

SSI food: Laith's Qubba

Welcome to the SSI Food Blog. Whether they are SSI employees, volunteers, refugees or people seeking asylum, the people featured here all share a love of food.

One of the many benefits of multiculturalism is delicious food, so let’s enjoy!

Laith Al Mandowi

In Baghdad there are two long rivers that run from north to south and surround the city. Growing up there, we would go to those rivers to play dominoes, smoke shisha, and of course to eat and drink at the many popular riverside barbecue restaurants. One of the dishes I loved to eat was Qubba; a dish of chicken-stuffed couscous balls cooked in a fragrant stew.

Laith's Qubba  Laith Al Mandowi, as featured in SBS Feast magazine, with his Iraqi Qubba.

Laith Al Mandowi, as featured in SBS Feast magazine, with his Iraqi Qubba.Laith Al Mandowi, as featured in SBS Feast magazine, with his Iraqi Qubba.Laith Al Mandowi, as featured in SBS Feast magazine, with his Iraqi Qubba.

When I left Iraq 15 years ago and settled in Sydney, I didn’t cook much but one of the first things I did was visit an Indian grocer to buy spices and pickles because they are similar to those in my homeland and craved a taste. When my sister Sahar joined me here in Australia, she taught me how to cook many of the dishes I remember from Iraq, including Qubba.

I cook it every week for friends and colleagues from SSI, who come to my house. Balance is the key to this dish, so I taste it every couple of minutes and add more seasoning to make sure the flavour is perfect.

Qubba (Iraqi dish of couscous and chicken balls)

Serves 8


125g Bulgur

375g Jereesh

400ml water

1 tablespoon pepper

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon cumin powder

300-400g mince (your choice of meat)

50ml oil 

300g onion finely-chopped

3 cloves crushed garlic

100g parsley finely chopped (3 bunches)

100g shallot finely chopped (optional)

250g zucchini (or any preferred vegetable)

100g pineapple

Handful fresh curry leaves

25g qubba ground spices( cumin, coriander, black pepper, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon)

½ cup tomato paste

½ cup water

Prep 20 minutes. Cooking 20 minutes. 


Mix bulger and jereesh in a bowl with 150ml water. Leave covered for 30 minutes

Meanwhile, fry mince for 5 minutes. Add onion and spices and fry for another 5 minutes. Then add parsley and shallot and stir for 3 minutes.

Add 150ml water to the bulger mix and knead. Leave covered for another 30 minutes.

Then add 100ml of water, knead for 30 seconds, and leave covered for another 15-30 minutes.

Take ¼ cup of bulger mix and flatten in to an 8cm round circle. Place 1 teaspoon of mince in centre of flattened mixand bring the edges up and pinch together to seal them. Flatten in to a 6cm patty.

Put the Qubba in the freezer for at least 2 hours.

Heat up a large pot.

Add the oil and onion, fry for 2 minutes. Add garlic and half the curry leaves, stir for another minute or two.

Add frozen Qubba. Mix

Add vegetable, pineapple and rest of curry leaves.  Mix.

Add water, salt, Qubba spices and tomato paste. Boil for 10 minutes or until mince is fully cooked.

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