There is much that I could say to preface this post. But I'm going to keep it simple. As I mentioned yesterday, today my blog turns four. No-one could be more surprised about that than me - I'm not particularly good at sticking to things. In fact, this blog and my yoga practice are the only things I've ever stuck at for any length of time in living memory. There is much I could probably say about the "journey" this blog has taken, but most of all I just want to say thank you to all of you for continuing to read my posts and leave your kind and generous comments. The friendship and thoughtfulness I've discovered in complete strangers humbles me deeply, and there really are no words to express my gratitude. 'Nuff said.
Now back to food. Our June Community Recipe at I Heart Cooking Clubs was Ottolenghi's hummus, and I did plan to bring you this last week to coincide with our "Got A Pulse" theme, but life got in the way and it just didn't happen. Not in a bad way mind you. A highlight of my week was a visit for the last four days of my oldest and dearest friend. Friends for the last 35 years, but not having had the opportunity to spend time together like this since we flatted together in our twenties, I can tell you we had a wonderful weekend ... good food and good wine (both of which were infinitely superior to what was consumed back "in the day"), shopping, movies, and talking till the wee small hours, picking up where we left off as though it was yesterday. So I'm sure you'll forgive having had to wait a few extra days for this post.
Needless to say, this is another gem from Yotam Ottolenghi. Warm hummus (yes, warm ... who'd have thought), topped with spicy lamb, a piquant, garlicky lemon sauce, and (the icing on the cake) buttered pine nuts.
I've got to say that this is not a "throw it together in five minutes" kind of dish. There are quite a few steps involved. But most elements of the dish can be prepared in advance, and if you're suitably prepped, the final dish actually can come together in just a few minutes.
I took a couple of shortcuts. The original recipe called for a number of different spices for marinating the lamb. I took the easy option, using some of my favourite Sami's Kitchen spice blends: Shawarma spice blend (a combination of pepper, pimento, mustard, cumin, ginger, cardamom, coriander, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves), and Za'atar (a blend of thyme, sesame, sumac, salt, coriander and cumin), and I must say (though I'm not paid to do so) that these represent no shortcut in flavour. I know that these spice blends are readily available in New Zealand and Australia (not sure about elsewhere), but I do highly recommend them if you can get your hands on them.
And a word about the hummus. Ottolenghi's hummus is a little different from what I've made before. In fact, I kind of have my "go to" hummus recipe which I pretty much make now with my eyes closed, so I almost wasn't going to bother - I was thinking I'd just make my usual hummus and putting the toppings on it. But then my friend and IHCC co-host Kim at Stirring the Pot posted this dish and hooked me in when she described the "cloudlike and velvety" qualities of the hummus. After I shared Kim's post on my Facebook page, my friend Martine made it and said it was the smoothest, best hummus she'd ever tasted. And when the lovely Joanne at Eats Well With Others described it as "the hummus to end all hummus", it was a no-brainer ... I had to try it. So, all I can say is - don't just take my word for it. When I tell you this hummus is wonderful, I've got back-up!
Of course the hummus on its own is heavenly - still warm and velvety with more tahini than I would have imagined - but top that with the spicy lamb, lemon sauce, and buttered pine nuts, and you have, as Ottolenghi says, "one of the most sensational things you can put in your mouth". Nothing else needed but a few warm pita breads and a simple salad. Eat with your hands!!
Hummus Kawarma (Lamb) with Lemon Sauce Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
Basic Hummus Recipe
1 cup dried chickpeas
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup tahini
4 tablespoons lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
100ml (or so) (1/4 cup) chilled water
generous pinch of salt
Wash chickpeas well and place in a large bowl. Cover with at least twice their volume of cold water, and leave to soak overnight.
Next day, drain the chickpeas and place in a medium-sized saucepan along with the baking soda. Set the pan over high heat and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes. Add 6 cups of fresh water and bring to the boil.
Continue to cook until the chickpeas are soft enough to crush between your fingers, but not completely mushy. This could take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending somewhat on your chickpeas and also how long they soaked for in the first instance. Mine took just a little over 20 minutes.
Drain the chickpeas, and reserve a handful or so for garnishing the finished dish. Put the rest of the warm chickpeas into the food processor and blitz until you reach a stiff paste. Then add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Blitz it up again, and then with the motor still running, slowly drizzle in the iced water, and keep processing for about 5 minutes until completely smooth.
Transfer to a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rest for about half an hour before serving.
For the lamb:
300g boneless lamb shoulder
2-1/2 teaspoons Shawarma Spice Blend
1 teaspoon za'atar or dried oregano
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried mint
generous handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
generous pinch flaky sea salt
For the lemon sauce:
generous handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch flaky sea salt
flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
large handful pine nuts, fried in a little butter
Chop lamb very finely. This is easiest done in the food processor, pulsing just until finely chopped but not quite minced.
Remove lamb to a bowl and add the shawarma spices, za'atar, vinegar, mint, parsley and salt. Mix well to make sure all of the meat is covered with the seasoning. Cover the bowl and leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
Prepare the lemon sauce, just before cooking the lamb, by simply putting all the ingredients into a small bowl, and mixing well.
Set a large skillet over medium heat and add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the lamb in a couple of batches, stirring as you cook. It will only take a couple of minutes - take care not to overcook.
Serve in shallow bowls, spreading a generous portion of hummus in each bowl. Make a hollow in the centre of the hummus, and serve the warm lamb into the hollow. Scatter with the reserved chickpeas, and drizzle with the lemon sauce. Sprinkle over extra parsley and the buttered pine nuts to garnish.
If you would like to get to know Yotam Ottolenghi a little better, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up ...
... or check out Jerusalem and Ottolenghi's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Fishpond NZ.
I'm also sharing this post this week at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the lovely, and very amusing, Michelle at Ms. enPlace.