Hummus kawarma (lamb) with lemon sauce
Hummus kawarma is the Lebanese name given to freshly made hummus, topped with fried chopped lamb. It is a small meal or a starter in a bowl and one of the most sensational things you can put in your mouth. Have it with Fattoush (see page 29 of Jerusalem) or a similar salad and pita. Minced lamb can be used instead of chopping the meat by hand, but it won’t have quite the same gratifying texture. This dish also works well without lamb altogether, just the hummus, chickpeas, lemon sauce and pine nuts.
- 1 quantity Basic hummus (see recipe below), reserving 4 tablespoons of the cooked chickpeas to garnish
- 2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted in the oven or fried in a little unsalted butter
- For the Kawarma:
- 300g neck fillet of lamb, finely chopped by hand
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp crushed dried za’atar or oregano leaves
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
- 1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus extra to garnish
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter or ghee
- 1 tsp olive oil
- For the Lemon Sauce:
- 10g flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1 green chilli, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/2 tsp salt
- For the Basic Hummus:
- 250g dried chickpeas
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 270g light tahini paste
- 4 tbsp lemon juice
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 100ml ice cold water
To make the Basic Hummus:
1. Start a day before by washing the chickpeas well and placing them in a large bowl. Cover them with cold water, at least twice their volume, and leave to soak overnight.
2. The next day, drain the chickpeas. Place a medium saucepan on a high heat and add the drained chickpeas and the bicarbonate of soda. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add 1.5 litres of fresh water and bring to a boil. Cook, skimming off any foam and any skins that float to the surface. The chickpeas can cook for anywhere between 20 and 40 minutes, depending on the type and freshness, sometimes even longer. Once done, they should be very tender, breaking up easily when pressed between your thumb and finger, almost but not quite mushy.
3. Drain the chickpeas. You should have roughly 600g now. Place the chickpeas in a food processor bowl. Process until you get a stiff paste; then, with the machine still running, add the tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic and 1½ teaspoons of salt. Finally, slowly drizzle in the iced water and allow it to mix until you get a very smooth and creamy paste, about 5 minutes. Transfer the hummus into a bowl, cover the surface with cling film and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. If not using straight away, refrigerate until needed. Make sure to take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.
To make the kawarma:
1. Place all the ingredients apart from the butter or ghee and oil in a medium bowl. Mix well, cover and allow the mixture to marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.
2. Just before you intend on cooking the meat, place all the ingredients for the lemon sauce in a small bowl and stir well.
3. Heat the butter or ghee and the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium–high heat. Add the meat in 2–3 batches and stir as you fry each batch for 2 minutes. The meat should be slightly pink in the middle.
4. Divide the hummus between 6 individual shallow serving bowls, leaving a slight hollow in the centre of each. Spoon the warm kawarma into the hollow and scatter with the reserved chickpeas. Drizzle generously with the lemon sauce and garnish with some chopped parsley and the pine nuts.