This basic hummus recipe is super-smooth and rich in tahini. It can be kept in the fridge for up to three days and used simply spread over a plate, drizzled with olive oil and eaten with pita or bread. However, the recipe that follows turns hummus into an altogether different thing: an exciting centrepiece of a substantial meal, as it is mostly enjoyed in Jerusalem. If you prefer to stick to the basic recipe, you can vary it by folding in cooked and crushed chickpeas for texture, adding some ground cumin and adjusting the amount of lemon juice and tahini to suit you.
250g dried chickpeas
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
270g light tahini paste
4 tbsp lemon juice
4 garlic cloves, crushed
100ml ice cold water
1. Start the 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 three minutes, stirring constantly. Add 1½ litres of fresh water and bring to a boil. Cook, skimming off any foam and 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 600 grams 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 five 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.
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 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 above), reserving 4 tablespoons of the cooked chickpeas to garnish
2 tbsp pinenuts, toasted in the oven or fried in a little unsalted butter
300g neck fillet of lamb, finely chopped by hand
¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cinnamon
good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp crushed dried zaatar 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
10g flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
4 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ tsp salt
1. To make the kawarma, 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 to cook 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 six 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 pinenuts.