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Beetroot Kibbeh with Charred Onions, Beetroot Liquorice Yoghurt and Feta

This is our take on a traditional Lebanese kibbeh with beautiful vibrant coloured beetroot and liquorice to lift the dish. 

Dried liquorice root sticks can be bought from health food shops or online. They can be chewed dried and have a sweet liquorice flavour. Alternatively pour on boiling water to make a tea or a flavouring stock. You can also buy powdered liquorice root. Pontefract in Yorkshire with its sandy soil was perfect for liquorice growing and was the origin of liquorice sweets known as Pontefract cakes.

Along with the charred onion cups and crunchy spiced dukkha it makes for an interesting play on textures. The feta adds a salty element. 

Beetroot Kibbeh with Charred Onions, Beetroot Liquorice Yoghurt and Feta

Beetroot Kibbeh

Makes 10 Kibbeh | Serves: 2/3 

Prep Time: 30 minutes | Cook time: 2 hours


  • 1 medium raw beetroot
  • 120g cooked aduki beans
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp caraway seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp ground chipotle powder or smoked hot paprika
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 2 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 50g red quinoa
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 110ml stock
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp gram flour
  • Sunflower or rapeseed oil for frying
  • 2 tbsp corn flour
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds


  1. Wrap the beetroot in foil and bake for 1 ½ hours until tender.
  2. Allow to cool, peel and grate on the fine side of a grater, placing the grated beetroot in a sieve and gently press out the excess juices.
  3. In a small saucepan fry the quinoa in 1 tsp of oil for a minute to lightly toast. Add the stock, place a lid on and cook for 15 minutes on a low heat until all the water is absorbed. Leave to stand with the lid on for 10 minutes, then tip out to cool.
  4. In a wide frying pan, gently fry the chopped onion and caraway seeds over a low heat for 10-15 minutes until the onions are soft and beginning to caramelise.
  5. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the paprika, chipotle, cocoa, sun-dried tomatoes, and cook for a further minute until fragrant.
  6. Add the aduki beans and mash with a fork.
  7. Add the grated beetroot, sugar, lemon juice, salt and pepper and cook the mixture gently for a few minutes to help it dry out a bit.
  8. Sieve the gram flour and sprinkle over and cook out for a minute. Stir in the quinoa. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  9. Cool the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes. Press into 10 small torpedo shapes in the palm of your hands.
  10. Roll the kibbeh in sesame and cornflour to coat, then shallow fry, until well coloured on all sides. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm in a low oven until ready to serve.

Charred Onions

Serves 2

The flavouring stock for these charred onions needs to be started the night before.


  • 4 small or baby onions
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil


  • 100ml water
  • Small piece kombu
  • 2 shitake mushrooms
  • 2cm dried liquorice root sticks
  • 2 tsp white miso
  • 2 tsp mirin
  • 3 tsp genmai su


  1. To make the stock, soak the kombu, shitake mushrooms and liquorice in cold water overnight.
  2. Next day strain out the pieces and retain the stock.
  3. Mix in the white miso, mirin and genmai su to the stock, place the stock in a saucepan and simmer gently to reduce the stock a little.
  4. Preheat oven to 200C Fan.
  5. Cut the onions in half. Trim the base of the onion to remove the hairy roots and cut off the pointy tip.
  6. Brush the cut side with sunflower oil and place cut side down on a hot frying pan. Griddle until the cut side is blackened all over.
  7. Place the onions in a parchment package. Spoon the stock over the onions and close up the package, place in the oven for 20 minutes to finish cooking.
  8. Peel the skin off the onions and pull apart each cup of onion.

Beetroot Liquorice Yoghurt

Serves 2


  • 1 medium beetroot (approx. 150g)
  • 2cm dried liquorice root sticks
  • 50ml plain yoghurt
  • 2 tsp espresso coffee
  • 1 tsp pomegranate molasses
  • ¼ tsp ground liquorice root
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Boil the beetroot for 1 hour with the skin on in water with a stick of dried liquorice root.
  2. When tender, drain and peel the beetroot. Blend until smooth with the yoghurt, coffee, pomegranate molasses and ground liquorice. Add salt to taste.

Plating Suggestions

Choose a large light-coloured plate and brush some beetroot liquorice yoghurt in a semi-circle where you plan to arrange the kibbeh. Serve odd numbers so either three or 5 kibbeh, interspersed with onion cups. Place cubes of feta around the kibbeh, sprinkle with dukkha and add a few drops of olive oil and micro-herbs or edible flowers for decoration to finish the dish.

Also featured in the July 2018 issue of Vegetarian Living Magazine.

Delicious food photography by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.

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