Hummus with Spiced Lamb (Hummus bil Lahme)

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.

Hummus with lamb 1

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.

olive oil
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.

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28 Comments

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  • Reply
    Joy Bee
    December 28, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Wow! This looks amazing, I can’t wait to try it. I bet it would be great with a cucumber salad on the side too. Yum…I need to buy more paprika.

  • Reply
    Eileen
    July 8, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    That lamb looks spectacular! And I love the idea of the open spice stand–at least you still get to smell all the demonstration bowls!

  • Reply
    grace
    July 7, 2012 at 9:03 am

    the texture of your hummus looks AMAZING! when we’re out to eat, the carnivorous men in my life always shake their heads when i order hummus instead of something meaty, but i love the stuff!

  • Reply
    Heather @girlichef.com
    July 6, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    I could chow down on this! Seriously, the hubs and I would make quick work of this. Those flavors have my cheeks tingling just thinking about them. And piled atop the hummus…pass me the bread… Okay, guess I’m making this!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      July 6, 2012 at 6:55 pm

      Yeah, the lemon with the spices were an amazing combination. I’m on an international kick, for sure. I was just thinking about you because I have a hankering for tamales. I’m sure you’ve made them, I have to search your blog and see.

  • Reply
    Tricia @ saving room for dessert
    July 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Absolutely fascinating! I adore hummus so this dish is calling to me. Love the idea, the presentation and the promise of incredible flavors. Wonderful!

  • Reply
    Ellen B Cookery
    July 5, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    This looks absolutely delicious! YUM!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      July 6, 2012 at 12:01 am

      It was, Ellen, and now I’m not sure I’ll be able to go back to ‘plain’ hummus again, at least for a while. I need to try it with beef, chicken, mushrooms…

  • Reply
    Amy
    July 6, 2012 at 1:53 am

    Sue, this looks so fantastic! I have about 10 different lebanese dishes I have written down that I want to make, and a lot of them have lamb. It’s definitely a meat I want to experiment with and I love how you have it hear with hummus and toasted almonds. It doesn’t get much better than that. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      July 6, 2012 at 6:36 pm

      I’d love to see what you do with your recipes. I have a couple more that look really good to me, and my daughter is actually spending the summer in the Middle East on a fellowship from college, so I am hoping to get some inspiration from her, too.

  • Reply
    Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti
    July 5, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    This looks so delicious! I usually serve spiced lamb over rice but I love this combination with humus!

  • Reply
    The Café Sucré Farine
    July 5, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Oh my, this looks absolutely incredible, I will be trying it for sure!

  • Reply
    Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes
    July 5, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    Looks delicious, I love hummus too! I only wish hubby liked lamb though, he keeps trying it, and he keeps turning his nose up . . . this may be one of those meals I make for myself when he’s not around! LOL!!!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      July 5, 2012 at 11:31 pm

      Or use beef, I think a little filet would be great, and it’s nice that you only need a little. I can’t stand it when my husband doesn’t like something that I love…I keep trying to get him to see the light!

    • Reply
      Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes
      July 6, 2012 at 3:36 am

      LOL, after 19 years of marriage, I finally raised the white flag on lamb and salmon . . . but it doesn’t deter me!

  • Reply
    Free Spirit Eater
    July 5, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Wow. This dish is so beautiful, rustic and filled with flavors I love. Simply divine. Thanks for sharing! =]

  • Reply
    Thyme (Sarah)
    July 5, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    First, these photos are terrific! Second, this dish looks terrific. I was just watching an A. Bourdain (I’m starting to sound like a broken record…) and he was in Istanbul. They served him a dish similar to this but instead of hummus , it was a bean puree. It looks so delicious. We just visited this place in Houston that caters to the Middle Eastern market here. It is ginormous and has all sorts of ingredients and spices.

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      July 5, 2012 at 11:42 pm

      The bean puree sounds interesting, I should branch out from chickpeas. I bet you’re having a blast exploring Houston, it’s so exciting to have a first child starting college, I wish I could re-live that year. My oldest will be in grad school in Madison Wisconsin this fall, so I hope to get there, it’s supposed to have a pretty vibrant food culture.

  • Reply
    Rebecca Subbiah
    July 5, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    this looks divine ;-)

  • Reply
    Tabitha
    July 5, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Sue, hummus and meat is my all time fave, we have it twice a week over here but I’v never made my hummus oh bout now that I have my five pound blender I must give it a go.

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      July 5, 2012 at 11:25 pm

      Really? I don’t know why, but I resisted it for a while, then all of a sudden realized it was a fantastic idea. I’d love to know how you make yours, what kind of meat, etc…

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