Hummus with Lamb and Sumac.
Hummus with lamb and sumac is a luscious, healthy way to change-up your hummus fix by adding marinated, sauteed lamb atop smooth hummus.
For some, texture is important because it bothers them. They say of their aversion to eating raw oysters that “it’s a texture thing.” For me, I love eating raw oysters, and yes it is a texture thing. A good texture thing. Texture in all of its variations is part of my great kitchen quest. For hummus, it’s the ultra-smooth. For hummus kwarma, it’s the contrast of the smoothest chickpeas and tahini with chewiest, tangy spiced meat on top that sends me into a tailspin of mouth-watering delight. I think it will you too, even if you’re in the “bad texture thing” camp.
The lamb (kwarma) is ideally a tougher cut, like shoulder for stew, that gets a quick marinade for flavor and a little softening, and then a sizzling sauté for deep caramelization. Beef stew meat would work equally well. Either one is chopped by you, coarsely.
The hummus I’ve been making with pre-peeled chickpeas is so smooth and has such amazing texture, body and flavor that I can’t help but feel as though we, as a world of hummus eaters (of which there are ever so many), have not properly known hummus until we’ve eaten it like this. When you have hummus that is so good you can’t stop reaching for another spoonful, can’t stop thinking of it as snack, condiment, and basic food group, then it’s only a matter of time before it busts out of the world of dips and becomes much, much more.
This dish of spiced lamb over hummus is not something new in the Lebanese repertoire; it’s a classic dish, but one that many, in my clan at least, haven’t had on the table at home. It’s interesting to me to consider which dishes have remained important, have held on as mainstays, among the long line of our immigrant forbears here in the U.S., and which dishes either never made it or just lost their place along the way.
Much of that depends, no doubt, on families and where they came from in the old country and whether a mama loved to cook or not (though it doesn’t seem there was much room at a certain time for a Lebanese woman to not love to cook, or at least just to not cook like crazy regardless of how she felt about it).
Hummus kwarma–hummus smoothed out on a small plate and topped with caramelized, tangy sumac-spiced lamb, along with herbs and toasted pine nuts–is so succulent and downright luscious that I’m hoping to bring it to new prominence around here, and over there where you are too.
It’s true that this dish can be made with hummus of any sort: the coarser textured, the store-bought (do what you have to do; and if you must, Sabra is the smoothest and best tasting of all, in my view). Hummus kwarma can also be made with lamb or beef that is ground rather than coarsely chopped. While that will be really so very delicious, it won’t be a perfect textural balance. And who doesn’t love perfect?
Hummus with Lamb and Sumac
For the hummus:
- 3 cups cooked chickpeas (peeled chickpeas make the hummus ultra-smooth)
- 1 clove garlic, green sprout removed
- 1/4 cup tahini
- Juice 1/2 lemon, plus more as needed
- Kosher or sea salt, to taste
- Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
For the lamb:
- 1 lb. lamb shoulder meat
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, green sprout removed, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons sumac
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 1/2 cup chopped herbs such as mint, cilantro, parsley, for garnish
- To make the hummus, in the bowl of the food processor, puree the chickpeas and garlic clove. Stop and scrape down the bowl as you go, processing for several minutes until everything is completely pureed. This mixture may be very thick and ball up in the processor, depending how much liquid may be left in the cooked chickpeas.
- Add the tahini, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Process, taste, and add more salt or lemon juice to adjust texture and taste as needed.
- To make the lamb, cut the lamb shoulder into 1-inch pieces, cutting away excess fat and gristle.
- In a medium bowl, combine the lamb with the lemon juice, minced or grated garlic, salt, and one tablespoon of the sumac. Stir well and let the mixture rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium high heat until hot but not smoking. Drain the meat and pat it lightly with a paper towel to dry it off so that the meat will brown properly.
- Add the meat to the pan and sauté over high heat until the meat is completely browned and caramelized, 5-10 minutes. Season with the remaining tablespoon of sumac and cinnamon. Taste and adjust seasonings to taste.
- Spoon the hummus onto 6 plates and make a well in the center of each with the back of a spoon. Place a spoonful of the lamb on top of each plate, and garnish with pine nuts, herbs, and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately.
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I'm so glad you're here! You'll find among these pages the fresh and classic Lebanese recipes we can't get enough of! My mission is to share my tried + true recipes -- and to help our Lebanese food-loving community keep these culinary traditions alive and on the table. What recipes are you looking for? Let me know!
My mouth started watering the moment I saw the title of this post! I have never thought of topping hummus with meat (especially my favorite, lamb), but I love the idea.
My favorite mezza. Miam. Thanks for sharing.
This looks wonderful and I will be trying it, thank you!! I am also wondering about the dishes (I followed some links to another post about the dishes :-). Are these the antique ones you collect? Do you know the maker? They’re so gorgeous….they look like flow ware…and perfect for the food.
Oh Jane, thank you…yes, those are antique dishes my mother found–she always finds the good stuff. One has nothing on the bottom, the other just says England and I do think it is flow blue. Gems!
Maureen, we’ve had hummus the last couple of days and only yesterday were talking about hummus with mince and pine nuts. you must have been reading our mind. lovely recipe, will give it a try. interesting what you say about dishes that have stayed and those disappeared. Maybe a discussion for another day . we’re from Ehden in north lebanon and at home we would have stuffed tripe regularly. now rarely seen
That looks so good. It reminds me of an ( appetizer; like a small meal ) that I always ordered at a restaurant named Grape Leaves in Riverside , Ca.( now called Babylon) a bowl of Hummus with lamb shawarma . They even have an oven that bakes Fresh Pita bread in 2 mins. I’m excited about making your lamb recipe. Sean Abass
Hi Maureen! I wanted to make hummus soon using one of your recipes. Which one do you prefer? The recipe for your hummus that you have here, or the recipe you have using yogurt? If you do prefer yogurt, which yogurt would you suggest (ie. greek yogurt, nonfat greek yogurt, fat-free plain yogurt, regular fat plain yogurt, etc)? Thank you!
Hi Nadia–if you can get the peeled chickpeas, I recommend using those with this recipe. If not, make the other recipe using yogurt. Plain whole milk yogurt is ideal; thick greek yogurt will work as well, just add a little more liquid as needed for smoothness (water or lemon juice). Enjoy!
Thank you! I made the hummus with the yogurt today and it turned out wonderfully! My husband (who is Lebanese and super picky about his hummus) absolutely loved it and said it was better than his aunts and most restaurants! Thank you for this delicious recipe. For future reference, is there a particular brand of tahini you prefer?
I’m so glad to hear it! See this on the tahini brand!
I just stumbled across your site when looking for a falafel recipe, what a lovely website! I will definitely be saving this to my favorites, thank you. I live in Spain and haven’t started looking for sumac yet (just found this recipe, which I know my husband will LOVE) but it’s very possible I won’t find any- do you have any suggestions for any alternative spices? There is a good Indian shop across the border in Gibraltar and I might get lucky there but not too sure of my chances.
Many thanks from a fellow Michiganian far from home!
Hello from Michigan Aimee! Thanks so much for your comment. Sumac is such a special flavor and product that there isn’t a great substitute. Paprika mimics the look, but not the flavor. Lemon juice or crystals mimic the flavor, but not the look… You can find sumac online, too. Please let me know if you find any near you in Spain!! And so glad to know you and your husband will be enjoying these recipes together!
Thanks Maureen! Went to the Indian shop yesterday and no luck… found a lamb spice mix that looks good though so will give that a try. The falafel recipe was delicious, by the way, and the hummus, I’ll never leave the skin on the chickpeas again! My husband was VERY impressed, thanks!
Great recipe, I actually use lamb fat to sautee the meat, gives it such a good flavor. On another note, I would rather support Lebanese owned hummus brands such as Hannah or Cedar’s. Whereas Sabra is not.
Made this tonight – a true success. The lamb was to die for! Will make again!
That’s wonderful Elora, thank you!
Maureen – I finally made this tonight…..I can’t believe I waited this long. The hummus is literally a game changer by peeling the chickpeas. I have to say, I did it the long way today to see what it was like….going forward, I will be a frequent customer on your site for the already peeled, par-cooked chick peas!! thanks for the great tips and recipe.
That is wonderful Holly, thank you!
Maureen: I made your recipe for hummus kwarma today and it was fantabulous! Thanks for publishing it. I used the peeled chickpeas from your store and the hummus was the best I have ever made. We make a lot of it at our house, I always start with dry chickpeas which I soak overnight and the outcome has always been really good, but with your peeled chickpeas it was just perfect – they made a distinct difference in the smoothness of the hummus. So thanks for having them available. The lamb preparation was also excellent and I topped the dish with the Turkish pine nuts I purchased through your store. They are delicious too. Thank you for having them available to buy.
Wow Michele! What a special note–thanks so much for trying out these wonderful ingredients. I agree, they sure do make a difference. Thank you for taking time to write and for sharing your experience with my recipes and products! Delicious!
It was perfect the first time. This is very really unique helpful information.I learn so much from you as well! Thank you so much for sharing your helpful information. Keep it up.