Hummus with optional lamb
There’s not much more butchery and bludgeoning you could do to a pushover of a chickpea than assaulting it with acidic lemon juice, pungent garlic and earthy cumin. You could throw in the heat of some chilli flakes but it’s really not necessary. The chickpea will still end up lying in the foetal position on the ground of a dark, wet car park, shivering and panting. But the chickpea’s terror is your delight, because after the lemon-garlic-cumin attack, you’ll nurse it to smoothness with the rounding, softening catharsis of the nutty tahini and the fatty, grassy olive oil.
The result is a hummus which is at once a main event in its own right and a stage for dozens of other flavours to play out on. Here I’ve slightly adapted Moro’s recipe for a topping of minced lamb and cinnamon-caramelised onion which shuffles it into the main dish category for non-vegetarians, particularly when paired with a bowlful of carrot, broccoli and celery sticks.
Total time (all hands-on): 20 minutes
For the hummus:
1 can chickpeas (240g drained weight), 2 - 3 tbsp of the water reserved
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tbsp tahini paste
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp ground cumin
pinch of salt
good quality olive oil to top (about 3 – 5 tbsp)
a sprinkling of mixed dried herbs (optional)
For the lamb topping:
2 tbsp olive oil
170g minced lamb
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
a sprinkle of paprika
leaves from a few sprigs of parsley or coriander
Carrot, celery and broccoli sticks
To make the hummus:
Combine roughly 200g of the chickpeas, 2 tbsp chickpea water, garlic cloves, tahini, lemon juice and cumin together with a blender until fairly smooth, adding more of the water if needed.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and mix in most of the remaining chickpeas. Place in a serving bowl, creating circular grooves with a spoon and fill them with the olive oil. Top with the last of the chickpeas and sprinkle with the mixed dried herbs.
If you’re doing the lamb topping, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the onions on a low to medium heat until sweet and tender. Stir in the cinnamon and turn up the heat, adding the minced lamb. Break the lamb up with a spatula and fry until crispy, seasoning with salt and pepper. Once it’s done, scatter the lamb over the hummus and top with paprika and chopped parsley. Serve immediately with warm pitta breads, carrot, celery and broccoli sticks.