Hummus Kawarma (Lamb) with Lemon Sauce from 'Jerusalem'

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.

Recipe Facts

Active: 20 mins
Total: 80 mins
Serves: 6 servings

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  • Basic Hummus, reserving 4 tbsp of the cooked chickpeas to garnish
  • Chopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted in the oven or fried in a little unsalted butter
  • Kawarma:
  • 10 1/2 oz/300 g neck fillet of lamb, finely chopped by hand
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried za’atar or oregano leaves
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or ghee
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  •  Lemon Sauce:
  • 1/3 oz/10 g flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 green chile, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. To make the kawarma, place all the ingredients apart from the butter or ghee and oil in a medium bowl. Mix well, cover, and allow the mixture to marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.

  2. Just before you are ready to cook the meat, place all the ingredients for the lemon sauce in a small bowl and stir well.

  3. Heat the butter or ghee and the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the meat in two or three batches and stir as you fry each batch for 2 minutes. The meat should be light pink in the middle.

  4. Divide the hummus among 6 individual shallow bowls, leaving a slight hollow in the center of each. Spoon the warm kawarma into the hollow and scatter with the reserved chickpeas. Drizzle generously with the lemon sauce and garnish with some parsley and the pine nuts.