Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hummus Kawarma (Lamb) with Lemon Sauce

In his cookbook, Jerusalem, Yotam Ottolenghi says this of Hummus Kawarma 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."

I am in agreement with him.  Hummus Kawarma with Lemon Sauce is in fact sensational and heavenly in every way.  Fried bits of perfectly seasoned ground lamb, topped with toasty little pine nuts, and a tangy refreshing lemon sauce served atop a very smooth and creamy bowl of hummus. You know how people mention the "mouthfeel" of a dish?  This dish has a wonderful mouthfeel.  The hummus just feels so cloud-like and velveety.  In fact, everything about this dish just feels seductive to me, including the part where you eat it with your hands.  You'll find yourself dunking the warm pita into the bowl with an eagerness to devour.  I would highly recommend this dish and cannot wait to make it again! 

Hummus Kawarma with Lemon Sauce
Adapted from Jerusalem
by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
Serves about 6

Basic Hummus:
1-1/4 cups dried chickpeas
1 teaspoon baking soda
6-1/2 cups water
1/2 - 3/4 cup tahini paste, or to taste
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 tablespoons ice-cold water

Note: To make the Hummus Kawarma you will need to reserve 4 tablespoons of the cooked chickpeas for the garnish.

The night before, put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover them with cold water at least twice their volume.  Leave to soak overnight.

The next day, drain the chickpeas.  Place a medium saucepan over high heat and add the drained chickpeas and baking soda.  Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the water and bring to a boil.  Cook, skimming off any foam and any skins that float to the surface.  The chickpeas will need to cook 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.

Drain the chickpeas.  You should have roughly 3-2/3 cups now.  Place the chickpeas in a food processor and process until you get a stiff paste.  Then, with the machine stilfHl running, add the tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic, and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt.  Finally, slowly drizzle in the iced water and allow it to mix for about 5 minutes, until you get a very smooth and creamy paste (I had to add a little more ice-cold water than called for to achieve a smooth paste).

Transfer the hummus to a bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.  If not using straightaway, refrigerate until needed.  Make sure to take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes prior to serving. 

Hummus Kawarma with Lemon Sauce

Basic Hummus, recipe above, plus 4 tablespoons of the reserved cooked chickpeas
chopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
1/4 - 1/2 cup pine nuts, fried in a little butter until golden brown

1 pound of ground lamb
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
good pinch of grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon za'atar or oregano leaves
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped mint
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter or ghee
1 teaspoon olive oil

Lemon Sauce:
1/2 ounce flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 clove garlic, minced or sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt

To make the kawarma, place all the ingredients, except for the butter and oil, into a medium bowl.  Mix well, cover, and allow the mixture to marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Just before you are ready to cook the meat, place all the ingredients for the lemon sauce in a small bow and stir well.

Heat the butter or ghee and the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add the meat and stir to fry.  The book says that the meat should be light pink the middle, but I fried the lamb until it was well done and a little crispy on the edges (the crispy edges were what I was after for texture).

Divide the hummus among 6 individual shallow bowls, leaving a slight hollow in the center 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 parsley and the pine nuts. 
Theme: A Little Bit of Sunshine!

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