Hummus Kawarma

5 from 3 votes
Jump to Recipe

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Hummus kawarma with lamb and sumac is a luscious, healthy way to change-up your hummus by adding marinated, sautéed lamb atop smooth hummus.

Want to save this recipe?
Type your email below and I’ll send it to you! As a bonus, you’ll receive recipes, shop specials, and more.

This dish of flavorful lamb over hummus is not something new in the Lebanese repertoire; it’s a classic dish, but one that many, in my clan at least, have not had on the table at home. It’s interesting to me to consider which dishes have remained important, have held on as mainstays, among the long line of our immigrant forbears here in the U.S., and which dishes either never made it or just lost their place along the way. Much of that depends, no doubt, on families and where they came from and whether a mama loved to cook or not (though it doesn’t seem there was much room at a certain time for a Lebanese woman to not love to cook, or at least just to not cook like crazy regardless of how she felt about it…).

Hummus kawarma–hummus smoothed out on a small plate and topped with caramelized, tangy spiced lamb, along with herbs and toasted pine nuts–is so succulent and downright luscious that I’m hoping to bring it to new prominence around here, and over there where you are too. This will become one of the very best hummus dishes you make, so very next level!

What is hummus kawarma?

Hummus kawarma is the Lebanese name for the dish of hummus topped with highly seasoned sautéed chopped lamb. It is incredibly, deeply savory and delicious and one of the finest texture and flavor combinations on the planet! Make the dish as part of a mezze, as a hummus bowl, or serve it as a small meal or main course. Serve Hummus Kawarma with a variety of other mezze dishes, salads such as Fattoush and Tabbouleh in particular are a fresh, light counterpoint. Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi popularized this recipe including it in his cookbook of Middle East deliciousness, Jerusalem. One of the special elements of this dish is the texture of the lamb, which we accomplish by chopping lamb shoulder meat, along with the creamy texture of the hummus. Ground lamb is a fine substitute but this texture facet that is a hallmark of the dish will be missing. 

Ingredients

Smooth hummus in the food processor, Maureen Abood

Hummus ingredients:

As with any recipe that calls for hummus, homemade hummus is extra delicious and beloved for its purity and smoothness. Store-bought plain hummus is perfectly acceptable here if you don’t have time or interest in making your own hummus. You’ll need about ¾ cup per serving.

3 cups cooked chickpeas. Peeled chickpeas make the hummus ultra-smooth. Make your own from a can of drained chickpeas softened over medium heat with a tablespoon of baking soda, then remove the peels in a big bowl of water in the sink. Or try my pre-peeled chickpeas here.

1 clove garlic

1/4 cup tahini

Juice 1/2 lemon, plus more as needed

Kosher or sea salt, to taste

Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Kawarma Ingredients:

1 lb. lamb shoulder meat. The lamb (kawarma) is ideally a tougher cut, like shoulder for stew, that gets a quick marinade for flavor and a little softening, and then a sizzling sauté for deep caramelization. Beef stew meat would work equally well. Either one is chopped by you, coarsely.

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice. For this recipe, we make a marinade of lemon, garlic, and sumac which is sometimes referred to as lemon sauce.

2 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons sumac

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, which is in the family of warm spices that is a hallmark Lebanese flavor

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs such as mint, cilantro, chopped parsley, for garnish

Toasted Pine Nuts in a pan with a wooden spoon

How to make hummus with lamb

For the Hummus:

Step 1. In the bowl of the food processor, puree the chickpeas and garlic clove. Stop and scrape down the food processor bowl as you go, processing for several minutes until everything is completely pureed. This mixture may be very thick and ball up in the processor, depending how much liquid may be left in the cooked chickpeas.

Step 2. Add the tahini, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Process, taste, and add more salt or lemon juice to adjust texture and taste as needed.

For the Lamb:

Step 1. Cut the lamb shoulder into 1-inch pieces, cutting away excess fat and gristle.

Step 2. In a medium bowl, combine the lamb with the lemon juice, minced or grated garlic, salt, and one tablespoon of the sumac. Stir well and let the mixture rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Step 3. Drain the meat and pat it lightly with a paper towel to dry it off so that the meat will brown properly. 

Step 4. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. 

Step 5. Add the meat to the pan and sauté over high heat until the meat is completely browned and caramelized, 5-10 minutes. Season with the remaining tablespoon of sumac and cinnamon. Taste and adjust seasonings to taste.

Step 6. Spoon the hummus onto 6 plates or and make a well in the center of each with the back of a spoon. Place a spoonful of the warm kawarma on top of each plate, and garnish the lamb mixture with pine nuts, chopped fresh herbs, and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately with warm pita bread.

Expert Tips and Substitutions

To make this dish ahead, store the hummus in an airtight container for up to one week. Before serving, bring the hummus to room temperature. Give the hummus a good stir and add a little liquid (lemon juice or water) to smooth it out if necessary. 

To make the lamb ahead, cook it all the way through to caramelize and season it. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate it for up to 3 days. Reheat the lamb on the stovetop in a sauté pan. 

Don’t plate the hummus until just before serving, because it can form a skin and dry out on top.

To make this dish vegetarian, substitute mushrooms or red bell pepper for the lamb. Cut the vegetables in 2-inch pieces rather than 1-inch pieces so they don’t shrink too small when cooking.

It’s true that this dish can be made with hummus of any sort: the coarser textured, the store bought; just be sure it is plain hummus so the kawarma can stand out. The hummus I’ve been making with pre-peeled chickpeas is so smooth and has such amazing texture, body and flavor that I can’t help but feel as though we, as a world of hummus eaters, have not properly known hummus until we’ve eaten it like this. When you have hummus that is so good you can’t stop reaching for another spoonful, can’t stop thinking of it as snack, condiment, and basic food group, then it’s only a matter of time before it busts out of the world of dips and becomes much, much more.

The best substitute for the lamb shoulder with is an equally chewy cut of beef, such as beef stew meat, to get great kawarma-style texture with beefy flavor. 

Substitute ground lamb or ground beef for the lamb shoulder. Follow the recipe as is, simply skipping the step of cutting the meat. While that will be really so very delicious, it won’t be a perfect textural balance. And who doesn’t love perfect?

Finish the dish with a variety of garnishes, including fresh mint, flat-leaf parsley, pomegranate seeds, oregano leaves, or ground black pepper. Try a spicy version; to give the kawarma some heat, add a chopped green chili either fresh or sauteed with the lamb. 

Don’t have sumac? This spice offers acidity like citrus juice. We already have lemon in the recipe, so a fine substitution for the sumac would be a teaspoon of white wine vinegar. 

Other ways to serve hummus

Check out all of the ways for various styles of Lebanese Hummus Recipes

A similar dish that makes this a vegetarian take on hummus kawarma is my Hummus with Spicy Red Pepper

​More Mezze Recipes

Build the ultimate mezze with my Lebanese Mezze Platter ideas

Lebanese Turnip Pickles are a bright, beautiful addition to mezze and all kinds of Lebanese wraps and meals

Lebanese Stuffed Grape Leaves make a hearty, delicious mezze element, a favorite.

Hummus with lamb, sumac and pine nuts on a blue plate
Tap the stars to rate this recipe!
5 from 3 votes

Hummus Kawarma Recipe

The lamb is meant to be somewhat chewy and tangy with the lemon juice and sumac, making an extraordinarily delicious meal out of your hummus plate. Serve with pita bread.
Servings: 6

Ingredients 

For the hummus:

For the lamb:

Save This Recipe!
Get this sent to your inbox, and as a bonus, you’ll receive recipes, shop specials, and more.

Instructions 

  • To make the hummus, in the bowl of the food processor, puree the chickpeas and garlic clove. Stop and scrape down the bowl as you go, processing for several minutes until everything is completely pureed. This mixture may be very thick and ball up in the processor, depending how much liquid may be left in the cooked or drained canned chickpeas.
  • Add the tahini, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Process, taste, and add more salt or lemon juice to adjust texture and taste as needed.
  • To make the lamb, cut the lamb shoulder into 1-inch pieces, cutting away excess fat and gristle.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the lamb with the lemon juice, minced or grated garlic, salt, and one tablespoon of the sumac. Stir well and let the mixture rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  • In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium high heat until hot but not smoking. Drain the meat and pat it lightly with a paper towel to dry it off so that the meat will brown properly. 
  • Add the meat to the pan and sauté over high heat until the meat is completely browned and caramelized, 5-10 minutes. Season with the remaining tablespoon of sumac and cinnamon. Taste and adjust seasonings to taste.
  • Spoon the hummus onto 6 plates and make a well in the center of each with the back of a spoon. Place a spoonful of the lamb on top of each plate, and garnish with pine nuts, herbs, and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately.

Notes

Tips and Substitutions

To make this dish ahead, store the hummus in an airtight container for up to one week. Bring the hummus to room temperature before serving. Give the hummus a good stir and add a little liquid (lemon juice or water) to smooth it out if necessary. 
To make the lamb ahead, cook it all the way through to caramelize and season it. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate it for up to 3 days. Reheat the lamb on the stovetop in a sauté pan. 
Don’t plate the hummus until just before serving, because it can form a skin and dry out on top.
To make this dish vegetarian, substitute mushrooms or red bell pepper for the lamb. Cut the vegetables in 2-inch pieces rather than 1-inch pieces so they don’t shrink too small when cooking.
It’s true that this dish can be made with hummus of any sort: the coarser textured, the store bought; just be sure it is plain hummus so the kawarma can stand out. The hummus I’ve been making with pre-peeled chickpeas is so smooth and has such amazing texture, body and flavor that I can’t help but feel as though we, as a world of hummus eaters (of which there are ever so many), have not properly known hummus until we’ve eaten it like this. When you have hummus that is so good you can’t stop reaching for another spoonful, can’t stop thinking of it as snack, condiment, and basic food group, then it’s only a matter of time before it busts out of the world of dips and becomes much, much more.
Substitute lamb shoulder with an equally chew cut of beef, such as beef stew meat, to get great kawarma-style texture with beefy flavor. 
Substitute ground lamb or ground beef for the lamb shoulder. Follow the recipe as is, simply skipping the step of cutting the meat. While that will be really so very delicious, it won’t be a perfect textural balance. And who doesn’t love perfect?
Finish the dish with a variety of garnishes, including fresh mint, flat-leaf parsley, pomegranate seeds, oregano leaves, or ground black pepper. Give the kawarma some heat by adding a chopped green chili either fresh or sauteed with the lamb. 
Don’t have sumac? This spice offers acidity like citrus juice. We already have lemon in the recipe, so a fine substitution for the sumac would be a teaspoon of white wine vinegar. 

Nutrition

Calories: 374kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 449mg | Potassium: 538mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 31IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 66mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Author: Maureen Abood
Servings: 6
Calories: 374
Like this recipe? Leave a comment below!
(Visited 1,154 times, 3 visits today)

You May Also Like...


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

21 Comments

  1. Ghulam Mohyudin says:

    It was perfect the first time. This is very really unique helpful information.I learn so much from you as well! Thank you so much for sharing your helpful information. Keep it up.

  2. Michele Romeo says:

    Maureen: I made your recipe for hummus kwarma today and it was fantabulous! Thanks for publishing it. I used the peeled chickpeas from your store and the hummus was the best I have ever made. We make a lot of it at our house, I always start with dry chickpeas which I soak overnight and the outcome has always been really good, but with your peeled chickpeas it was just perfect – they made a distinct difference in the smoothness of the hummus. So thanks for having them available. The lamb preparation was also excellent and I topped the dish with the Turkish pine nuts I purchased through your store. They are delicious too. Thank you for having them available to buy.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Wow Michele! What a special note–thanks so much for trying out these wonderful ingredients. I agree, they sure do make a difference. Thank you for taking time to write and for sharing your experience with my recipes and products! Delicious!

  3. Holly Kohli says:

    Maureen – I finally made this tonight…..I can’t believe I waited this long. The hummus is literally a game changer by peeling the chickpeas. I have to say, I did it the long way today to see what it was like….going forward, I will be a frequent customer on your site for the already peeled, par-cooked chick peas!! thanks for the great tips and recipe.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      That is wonderful Holly, thank you!

  4. Elora says:

    Made this tonight – a true success. The lamb was to die for! Will make again!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      That’s wonderful Elora, thank you!

  5. George Zeidan says:

    Great recipe, I actually use lamb fat to sautee the meat, gives it such a good flavor. On another note, I would rather support Lebanese owned hummus brands such as Hannah or Cedar’s. Whereas Sabra is not.

  6. Aimee says:

    Hi Maureen,
    I just stumbled across your site when looking for a falafel recipe, what a lovely website! I will definitely be saving this to my favorites, thank you. I live in Spain and haven’t started looking for sumac yet (just found this recipe, which I know my husband will LOVE) but it’s very possible I won’t find any- do you have any suggestions for any alternative spices? There is a good Indian shop across the border in Gibraltar and I might get lucky there but not too sure of my chances.
    Many thanks from a fellow Michiganian far from home!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Hello from Michigan Aimee! Thanks so much for your comment. Sumac is such a special flavor and product that there isn’t a great substitute. Paprika mimics the look, but not the flavor. Lemon juice or crystals mimic the flavor, but not the look… You can find sumac online, too. Please let me know if you find any near you in Spain!! And so glad to know you and your husband will be enjoying these recipes together!

      1. Aimee says:

        Thanks Maureen! Went to the Indian shop yesterday and no luck… found a lamb spice mix that looks good though so will give that a try. The falafel recipe was delicious, by the way, and the hummus, I’ll never leave the skin on the chickpeas again! My husband was VERY impressed, thanks!

  7. Nadia says:

    Hi Maureen! I wanted to make hummus soon using one of your recipes. Which one do you prefer? The recipe for your hummus that you have here, or the recipe you have using yogurt? If you do prefer yogurt, which yogurt would you suggest (ie. greek yogurt, nonfat greek yogurt, fat-free plain yogurt, regular fat plain yogurt, etc)? Thank you!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Hi Nadia–if you can get the peeled chickpeas, I recommend using those with this recipe. If not, make the other recipe using yogurt. Plain whole milk yogurt is ideal; thick greek yogurt will work as well, just add a little more liquid as needed for smoothness (water or lemon juice). Enjoy!

      1. Nadia says:

        Thank you! I made the hummus with the yogurt today and it turned out wonderfully! My husband (who is Lebanese and super picky about his hummus) absolutely loved it and said it was better than his aunts and most restaurants! Thank you for this delicious recipe. For future reference, is there a particular brand of tahini you prefer?

        1. Maureen Abood says:

          I’m so glad to hear it! See this on the tahini brand!

  8. Sean Rami Abass says:

    That looks so good. It reminds me of an ( appetizer; like a small meal ) that I always ordered at a restaurant named Grape Leaves in Riverside , Ca.( now called Babylon) a bowl of Hummus with lamb shawarma . They even have an oven that bakes Fresh Pita bread in 2 mins. I’m excited about making your lamb recipe. Sean Abass

  9. paul zeidan says:

    Maureen, we’ve had hummus the last couple of days and only yesterday were talking about hummus with mince and pine nuts. you must have been reading our mind. lovely recipe, will give it a try. interesting what you say about dishes that have stayed and those disappeared. Maybe a discussion for another day . we’re from Ehden in north lebanon and at home we would have stuffed tripe regularly. now rarely seen

  10. Jane says:

    This looks wonderful and I will be trying it, thank you!! I am also wondering about the dishes (I followed some links to another post about the dishes :-). Are these the antique ones you collect? Do you know the maker? They’re so gorgeous….they look like flow ware…and perfect for the food.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Oh Jane, thank you…yes, those are antique dishes my mother found–she always finds the good stuff. One has nothing on the bottom, the other just says England and I do think it is flow blue. Gems!

  11. Karine Keldany says:

    My favorite mezza. Miam. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Janel @ Creating Tasty Stories says:

    My mouth started watering the moment I saw the title of this post! I have never thought of topping hummus with meat (especially my favorite, lamb), but I love the idea.