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Hummus with spiced lamb and pine nuts

The new series I am writing for Borough Market, Box Clever, is encouraging me to be much more adventurous with my packed lunches and how I pack them. Don’t you just love these Indian tiffin tins? I bought them for pretty pictures, but I find I am using them all the time.

I first tried this dish in a little family-run Lebanese restaurant called Emma’s on Liberty in Enmore, Sydney. They called it “traditional houmous” but it was so much better than any hummus I’d tried before. It did make me wonder why I’d been eating the unadorned version my whole life. Never again.

The dish is more often called hummus kawarma or hummus b’lahmeh, both of which mean hummus with lamb, but I am sure there are many other names to match the myriad recipes. There are almost as many versions of this dish throughout the Middle East as there are recipes for hummus. Chopped lamb or minced? Pine nuts or pomegranate seeds? Chunky or smooth? Tahini? Herbs? Spices? It depends who you ask.

Feel free to experiment. The lamb will be great with even just one or two of the spices I’ve listed here. If you don’t have something, just skip it or add something else. It may look like a long ingredient list, but you can cut and paste as you desire ... or as your spice collection dictates.

My hummus has been known to clear rooms when the lid is lifted. If you plan on taking the dish to work or sharing it at a picnic or dinner party, then you might want to skip the clove of raw garlic.

Serves one greedy person, two 'grazey' people or a handful of peckish people as part of a mezze spread.


For the lamb

200g lamb neck fillet (approx. 100g deboned)
1 tsp Aleppo pepper
¼ tsp ground cumin
Pinch all spice
Pinch sumac
Pinch ground black pepper
1 tsp pomegranate molasses
Salt, to taste
½ tbsp olive oil

For the hummus

1 x 400g tin chickpeas (240g drained weight)
4 cloves garlic
75ml mild olive oil
75ml lemon juice, or to taste
3 tbsp tahini
½ tsp paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the garnish

1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
1 sprig parsley, leaves roughly chopped
1 sprig mint, leaves roughly chopped


Debone the lamb and chop into small pieces. Put in a mixing bowl and add the Aleppo pepper, cumin, all spice, sumac, ground black pepper and pomegranate molasses. Toss to coat and season with salt to taste. Put to one side.

Drain the chickpeas and reserve one tablespoon for the garnish. Put the rest in a blender.

Peel and roughly chop one clove of garlic and put in the blender. Toast three of the garlic cloves under a hot grill for a minute or two on each side or until the skins are brown and the flesh is soft. When cool, remove the skins and put in the blender. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, tahini and paprika. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add more lemon, tahini or paprika if desired. 

Heat half a tablespoon of olive oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add the lamb and stir-fry for two minutes or until well browned, but still a little soft. 

In a hot, dry frying pan, toast the pine nuts until they start turning golden.

To serve, put the hummus in a bowl, place the lamb on top in the centre, then garnish with pine nuts, whole chickpeas and herbs. Serve with Turkish bread or lavosh to dip.

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