Sunday, 7 February 2010

Spicy Hummus with Crispy Lamb

Middle Eastern and North African food is a wee passion in my kitchen. Whenever I search for dinner ideas, I return again and again to the books that experiment with flavours of the east: Claudia Roden's 'Arabesque', Sam Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi's 'Ottolenghi: The Cookbook' and Sam and Sam Clark's Moro books among others. For me the attraction is in the aromatic spices, slow cooking and liberal use of beans and seeds.

Hummus is one of my favourite foods of all time, we eat our way through an astonishing amount of hummus each week, served with salad on flatbreads for lunch, as afterschool snack with carrots and sugarsnaps, or as late night snack with pitta bread and a glass of wine.

No matter how good some of the shop bought versions are, it never tastes as good as when you make it yourself. Hummus itself takes five minutes to throw together but this recipe transforms it from a simple dip into a more luxurious starter or supper.

For a vegetarian version, liberally sprinkle with toasted pine nuts, or with chickpeas cooked in place of the lamb.
Spicy Hummus with Crispy Lamb

For the hummus:
400g tin chickpeas, drained
1 lemon, juice and zest
2 tbsp tahini
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
100ml olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp plain greek yogurt

For the crispy lamb:
100g minced lamb
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp harrisa or chilli paste
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Blend all the hummus ingredients together in a food processor until smooth.
Spread thinly across a large plate.
Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and saute the minced lamb till browned. Add the harissa, cumin, coriander and cinnamon and cook gently for around 5 minutes until the lamb starts to become a little crispy.
Scatter the lamb over the hummus and sprinkle the smoked paprika over everything. Just before serving anoint with a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and serve with flatbreads.

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