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Basic Hummus from 'Jerusalem'

[Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin]

It is a testament to hummus that Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi would devote more pages (eight in total) to its preparation in Jerusalem: A Cookbook, more than anything else.

Hummus is the topic of many food debates in Jerusalem, and every person seems to have their own favorite preparation. Ottolenghi and Tamimi give their own tahini-rich recipe along with two variations, Musabaha (warm chickpea topping) and Kawarma (fried chopped lamb).

For the most show-stopping of hummus dishes, take the extra time and prepare the Kawarma. Freshly chopped lamb neck meat is marinated in warm spices, za'atar, vinegar, mint, and parsley before it's fried in butter. The warm kawarma nestles into a generous scoop of hummus and the whole thing is topped with a bright and tangy sauce of lemon juice, parsley, and garlic. Scooped up with warm pita bread, this hummus will change your view of the ubiquitous dip for good.

Why I picked this recipe: One of the most beloved (and contentious) dishes in Jerusalem, hummus is a must-cook recipe from this book. This more elaborate version with lamb and lemon sauce was too enticing to pass up.

What worked: This was hands-down the best hummus I've ever made or eaten. Topped with the slightly chewy and rich lamb and drizzled with bright lemon-parsley sauce, this was a dish I couldn't stop eating.

What didn't: Nothing. Perfect as written.

Suggested tweaks: If the recipe in its entirety is overwhelming, the hummus component on its own is absolutely worth making. Drizzled with a bit of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon, and you'll still be in hummus bliss. If you can't fine lamb neck fillet (and you'll probably need to special order it if you can), you can substitute ground lamb or chop your own shoulder meat.

Reprinted with permission from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, copyright 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.

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