Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Welcoming Autumn: Hummus with Spiced Lamb, or Hummus bi Laham

The leaves are piling in drifts around my house, forming crunchy alleys for my children to march through. 

It is time to pull blankets more snugly around our shoulders, to wrap our fingers around warm cups of tea, to dip our bread into something a little warmer, a little more substantial.

Here is a way to "spice up" your hummus:  serve it topped with warm, spiced minced lamb and toasted pine nuts. Add a pile of hot Arabic bread and some fresh cucumbers and tomatoes, and you have a hearty spread, guaranteed to satisfy and delight.


Meat with Hummus?  Really?

I know, I know.  Outside of the Middle East, we tend to think of hummus as food for vegetarians,  and vegans.  But I can assure you that the inventors of hummus - Arabs -have a long history of appreciating meat, celebrating with it and enjoying it as an almost sacred food.  This dish, then, is a natural extension of both the culture and the cuisine.  Rather than experimenting with other flavors of hummus, it is in keeping with the Arabic mentality to take what they already consider to be a good, every day food (authentic, traditional hummus) and elevate it with prized delicacies - meat, spice, and nuts.

Traditionally, this dish would have been made with awarma, or preserved lamb.  After a sheep was slaughtered, people would cook down minced lamb in copious amounts of fat, and preserve the lamb in the fat, putting it away for the long winter ahead.  Sprinkling a little of this meat over some hummus was one way to ensure that families stayed well-nourished over the hard winter months. 

Today, this dish is usually prepared with freshly ground meat, lamb or beef, or finely diced or shredded cuts of these meats.  I like the richness of the lamb against the garlicky hummus, with the soft buttery crunch of pine nuts, that is, if I can manage to find any after the children have had a run at the plate.  The meat should be well seasoned on its own, to stand up to the strong flavors of hummus, and still enjoyed scooped up in a piece of bread.


Hummus bi Laham

1 batch of hummus

1/2 lb ground grassfed lamb or beef
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 clove minced garlic
Sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
3 tbsp. pine nuts
1 tbsp. parsley, chopped

1. Heat a pan over medium heat, then add meat and seasonings.  Break up your meat with a wooden spoon, and continue to brown until fat is released and meat begins to sizzle and fry in its own fat.  Remove from heat.

2.  Spread hummus in a shallow plate, pile warm meat in the center of the hummus.

3.  Fry pine nuts in the meat drippings or in a little butter, until golden brown.  Pour over the meat.  Garnish with parsley.


Related Posts:

*How to Make Really (Smooth) Authentic Hummus

*Palestinian Smokey Eggplant Dip

*Mansaf, or Lamb in Yogurt Sauce

*Kefta, or Lamb Meatloaf in Tahini Sauce

Shared on Thank Your Body Thursday, Homeacre Hop, Tasty Traditions.


  1. Ah this is the recipe you were telling me about! Looks delicious. I can't wait to make it. Maybe I'll make it for Thanksgiving (because in my household we always make Middle Eastern dishes along with the American classics, haha).

    1. Yes, I made it earlier that day! I hope you do like it. I have to make a plan for Thanksgiving. I remember your post on a Middle Eastern Thanksgiving which looked wonderful ... I'll have to try to talk my family into doing something like that. :-)

  2. This sounds so delicious. I'm an American who enjoys learning about different cultures and foods. You write about it so well. :) I have some lamb in the freezer that I wasn't sure how to use. Now I know how!

    1. Thanks, Jasanna! I have so many recipes for lamb on here - my favorites are probably mnezzali (eggplant bake) and kefta (Palestinian meatloaf). But this has to be the easiest way to prepare lamb!

  3. I'm so excited to find your blog - you write so well and your recipes are amazing (just been looking through a few of them, but already see many I would love to try!) We raise sheep and eat a lot of lamb, so I'm always on the lookout for new-to-us recipes to use. Looking forward to following along on your blog ;)

  4. We love lamb and were fortunate enough to get a whole one for our freezer last year. We're still eating it! I think we might have some ground meat still left ~ I'd love to give this a try. Thanks for sharing it with us at the HomeAcre Hop. We'd love to have you back again tomorrow!


Trying this recipe? A question or a comment? I'd love to hear from you!