I love this luscious, simple to make dish because it’s a great example of the more exotic side of Mediterranean cuisine and, with the exception of the roses, (optional!) it uses ingredients that you already have in your kitchen. It starts with a good batch of hummus.
Finely chopped lean lamb gets a rub of paprika, allspice, turmeric, rosemary, roses, cinnamon, and cumin, then is quickly seared in a hot pan, doused in lemon juice, and laid on top of the bed of creamy hummus. The plate gets showered with toasted almonds and olive oil. The meat takes just minutes, and the hummus can be made ahead or bought. Serve it with pita or, better yet, laffa bread.
We have a new spice stand at our farmer’s market. They set out all the spices in big bowls just like in a middle eastern souk, or open air market. The problem is that, until this week, health department regulations required that they surround the spices with an ungainly wall of plastic wrap. It made it hard to see and impossible to smell the many spices, kind of defeating the whole purpose. This week the plastic was gone; they compromised with the authorities, and pre-packaged all the spices in little bags beforehand, leaving the open bowls for display purposes only. Not quite as romantic, but it works. I picked up a packet of their tagine spice blend. It made this dish a snap to make, but you can mix your own spices easily, the roses are optional ;)
I was introduced to this dish at one of our local Middle Eastern restaurants. At first the idea didn’t appeal to me, but after I saw a version of it on Yasmeen’s blog I started to change my mind. The lean meat (beef or lamb) is chopped in very small pieces (some recipes use ground meat) and quickly seared. Sometimes onions are added, and the spicing can range from simple salt and pepper to more elaborate blends. This dish is a good example of how, when I do eat meat, I like to use it as an accent rather than as the centerpiece of my meals. You can make this vegetarian by using an earthy mix of mushrooms in place of the meat.
Hummus with Spiced Lamb
freshly made hummus
1/2-3/4 lb lean lamb, cut into small pieces
2 tsp Middle Eastern spice mix (a blend of paprika, allspice, turmeric, rosemary, roses, cinnamon, and cumin)
salt and freshly cracked pepper
- Rub the pieces of lamb with the spices, salt and pepper, and set aside in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
- Prepare the hummus by spreading it out on a plate, making it thicker on the edges and shallower in the center to make a space for the meat.
juice of 1 lemon
- Heat a frying pan on medium high with a small amount of oil and sear the meat on all sides until browned and cooked through, this will only take a minute or two, but make sure the heat is high enough to sear the meat so that you get some good browning for flavor. Squeeze the lemon juice into the pan, swirl it around, and then put the meat directly on top of the hummus. making sure you get all the juices.
1/3 cup toasted sliced almonds
more olive oil
- sprinkle the plate with the almonds and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with pita or laffa bread.
The spiced lemony juices run down into the hummus and make this really delicious.