Hummus is more than just a dip.
I could talk for forever about the cultural importance of hummus in the Middle East, among British students or in radical movements of the past – and probably many other places too. But this post has a more practical purpose: In addition to being an incredibly good dip, hummus is the perfect base for a full meal.
When making hummus, I always double up. This way, I have enough for dinner – and lots left over for breakfast, as an energiser before work-out or as a late-evening snack for the next couple of days.
This is my favourite substantial hummus variation at the moment: my silky smooth hummus topped with warming and slightly exotic minced beef on top. Perhaps with pita and a salad on the side to provide a little more variation in texture and flavour. But really, nothing else is needed.
Baharat is arabic for spice.
I’ve called this hummus with baharat spiced beef. Baharat is arabic for spice. The Turks have also adopted the word, using it both to mean spice and spice mix. Any shop selling Middle Eastern spices will surely have at least one spice mix labelled baharat, though what’s inside is never easy to know: there is no standard. Usually, cumin, allspice and coriander seeds are included, but so are at least 3-4 other spices which may vary.
I usually don’t buy spice mixes. Making it yourself is very easy, and it means you can adapt to your mood of the day. Because even though the amount of spices may look a lot, they are actually familiar ones most people with a slight interest in food will keep in their spice racks. And if you don’t have all of them, I recommend nothing more than going out and buying them – and learning how to use them!
My version is warming and slightly spicy, courtesy of the chili, ginger and cinnamon. Just perfect for autumn. The mince takes on a deliciously exotic flavour without any one spice (or even the total) being overpowering. Together with creamy hummus this is proper comfort food. So dig in! Serves 2-4, depending on what else is on offer.
Hummus with baharat spiced beef
- 500 g hummus (1 portion)
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1.5 tsp ground coriander seeds
- 1 tsp pul biber or 1/4-1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper or chili flakes (to taste)
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 25 g pine nuts
- 500 g minced beef (or lamb, if you prefer)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (thick stalks removed), plus extra to garnish
- 5 mint leaves, finely sliced
Prepare the hummus (my recipe here – double up and keep left-overs in the fridge). You can prepare the hummus in advance and store in the fridge; take it out at least 30 minutes before eating, if you can, to allow the hummus to come back to room temperature.
- Mix the spices (the 9 ingredients starting with cumin and ending with cardamom).
- Fry the pine nuts in the olive oil in a large, thick bottomed frying pan over medium heat while stirring constantly until starting to brown, 2-3 minutes. Add the spice mix and minced beef and continue frying while chopping the meat into tiny pieces until the meat is cooked through. Add the butter and flat-leaf parsley and continue frying for another couple of minutes.
- Serve immediately over the hummus and top with the fresh mint and a little extra flat-leaf parsley.