Hummus kawarma (Lebanese hummus with lemony lamb)

An excellent way to enjoy hummus, whether as a sharing dish, lunch or dinner.
Hummus Kawarma – Lebanese style hummus with lemony lamb
Hummus Kawarma – Lebanese style hummus with lemony lamb

There’s something alluring about ingredients that are all but cooked for us. Canned chickpeas, ground meat, jarred grilled peppers. Source them well and you can cook up a noteworthy meal in almost no time.

Yet, a shortcut’s still a shortcut.

Ground beef will never taste as savoury and satisfying as a chunk of expertly cooked prime beef.

Canned chickpeas can taste of the brine they’ve been sitting in for who knows how long, or they can be too hard or too soft. Cook them from dried and you get get just the flavour and texture you’re looking for.

Grilled peppers from a jar will be brine-y or oily – even if it’s just a little – and never as beautifully sweet, soft and smokey as the ones you grill yourself.

Some dishes are worth the extra effort of starting from scratch.

Plus, the extra effort is often more of a mental challenge than real minutes spent in the kitchen.

Hummus tehina from the side on beautiful, old textile
Nothing can beat home made hummus made with chickpeas cooked from dried. Photo: Bahar Kitapcı

The case for cooking your own chickpeas

Case in point: Hummus.

I never – never, never, never – make hummus from canned chickpeas. Can you do a good hummus from canned chickpeas? Absolutely. Very good, even? Sure.

Will it be as good as if you’d started with beautiful dried chickpeas? No.

Almost every recipe I’ve seen that markets itself along the lines of «you won’t believe this hummus is made with canned chickpeas!» has some trick or other up its sleeve to process those canned chickpeas. The most common ones involve some way of cooking the chickpeas again (!) or peeling every individual chickpea (!!).

You know what’s easier than all of that? Starting with dried chickpeas.

Cooking legumes is just about the easiest thing you can do in the kitchen. All you need to do is plan ahead.

I make big batches and freeze what I don’t use immediately, in which case they become as instant as canned ones. Except the texture or flavour is never a surprise – they’re just how I want them to be (al dente-ish for salads, falling apart tender for hummus).

Hummus Kawarma – Lebanese style hummus with lemony lamb

The case for (occasionally) hand chopping meat

I’m not going to pretend I don’t often reach for a packed of ground beef, or lamb, in my cooking. But I do it knowing that most of the time, chunks of meat would have been better. Who doesn’t prefer pulled meat to ground in tacos, for example?

Or, after trying this week’s new recipe, hummus with small chunks of hand chopped meat instead of the more commonly used ground meat.

I don’t know the exact science behind it, but when chopped into small pieces rather than ground, the whole thing tastes meatier, more umami laden and just better all around. With a soft textured companion like hummus, the added bite is another welcome addition.

I use lamb here – which is traditional and certainly recommended – but you can’t go wrong with beef, either, if that’s your preference, in which case a tender cut like sirloin or ribeye would work best.

In Lebanon, variations of this dish is typically served with a scattering of toasted pine nuts. Feel free to add, if you like!

Serve as part of a platter of sharing dishes, or devour with a zingy salad (I like Turkish Gavurdağ salad) and your favourite bread (Armenian lavash, perhaps?) for lunch or even dinner.

Enjoy!

Hummus Kawarma – Lebanese style hummus with lemony lamb

Hummus kawarma (Lebanese hummus with lemony lamb)

Meze, lunch or dinner | Lebanese | 45 minutes (plus soaking and cooking the chickpeas) | 2 servings
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Main Course, Meze
Lebanon, Middle East
45 minutes
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Ingredients

  • 1 portion hummus, c. 250 g/1 cup
  • 300 g lamb, lean cut, finely diced into ⅓ cm (⅛ in) cubes

Marinade

  • Tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • a pinch of white pepper

To cook & serve

  • 1–2 Tbsp olive oil, I use a mild extra virgin
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

How I make it

  • Prepare the hummus. Use your favourite recipe – this is mine. If using dried chickpeas (which I highly recommend), start by soaking the chickpeas the night before.
  • Prepare the marinade by mixing all the ingredients. Add the lamb, mix well and leave for 30 minutes.
  • Heat a large, thick bottomed frying pan over medium/high heat. Fry the meat in olive oil, making sure not to move the meat around too much to ensure a nice browning. Take off the heat and add the butter and 1 Tbsp lemon juice. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if necessary.
  • Taste the hummus again to see if it needs more salt, or if the texture needs adjusting (if it’s very firm, add a tablespoon of water).
  • Transfer the hummus to a serving dish or individual plates. Top with the lamb, remaining flat-leaf parsley and pine nuts (if using). Serve immediately.
Did you make this recipe?I’d love it if you’d be kind enough to leave a rating and a short comment.

Hey, there!

I’m Vidar, a Norwegian food writer based in Istanbul since 2015.

Join me in exploring the food and cultures of Turkey and the Middle East.

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Photo: Bahar Kitapcı
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Photo: Bahar Kitapcı

Hey, there!

I’m Vidar Bergum, a food writer based in Istanbul since 2015. I’ve published three books on the food and cultures of Turkey and the Middle East in my native Norway.

This website and my newsletter Meze are the homes of my writing and recipes in English.

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