Lebanese Kawarma is taking creamy hummus to the next level. Warm spices season ground lamb (or beef) and a bright mint, parsley, chili and lemon sauce is spooned over the top to make this flavorful dish! It's the perfect appetizer or main course.
Lebanese dishes never fail to be filling, flavorful, and full-bodied with a delicious palette of spices and seasonings. Kawarma, or hummus with lamb, is no exception to that rule.
My own ground lamb recipe is absolutely stuffed with a mix of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean spices for a rich, strong flavor. The hummus is perfectly creamy and nutty, and the whole thing is topped with a zesty (and spicy!) lemon sauce that brightens your whole plate.
This ground lamb recipe uses my own Lebanese Zaatar Spice Blend, which is so easy to make at home and in bulk that I’m not sure why you’d ever buy it in a store. I also recommend using my homemade hummus, and serving with this Middle Eastern pita bread.
Feel free to use just plain hummus for this, but, as pictured, I make a cilantro jalapeno flavored one. To the hummus (recipe or store bought): remove half from food processor and reserve. Add 1 bunch cilantro and 2 jalapeños (seeded) and puree with remaining hummus. Use both in this recipe (plain and green).
Cuisine: Levantine / Middle Eastern
What is kawarma?
Kawarma is the name for a dish of hummus with meat. In this case, seasoned lamb, fresh herb sauce, and garnishes.
Common garnishes include fresh parsley and mint, along with crunchy toasted pine nuts.
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Hummus - Make fresh or buy plain from the store I make mine with 2 different flavored hummus, from one batch. Puree half with cilantro and seeded jalapeños, and serve each with the meat.
- Seasoned Ground Lamb - A savory, earthy protein that we’ll saute in butter and olive oil. It is particularly delicious when seasoned with bold, grassy ingredients:
- Mint - Fresh, cooling, and sweet.
- Parsley - A peppery herb that’s aromatic and bright. Swap out with cilantro if you need to find a substitute.
- White Wine Vinegar - Tangy and a bit fruity. You can use red wine or rice vinegar as a substitute.
- Ground Allspice, Cinnamon, & Nutmeg - This combination of earthy, warm spices adds a variety of bitter, fruity, woody, and sweet flavors.
- Zaatar Spice - A basic Lebanese spice blend. Rather than purchase a dull, pre-made mix, try making your own!
- Black & White Pepper - Two different kinds of heat to add complexity to the dish.
- Lemon Herb Sauce - A simple mix of lemon juice, parsley, white wine vinegar, and a couple more ingredients for a unique kick:
- Jalapeño - Seeded, not too spicy, but still pleasantly hot.
- Minced Garlic - Sharp and pungent.
- Red Pepper Flakes - This seasoning gives an even, peppery heat. You could opt for cayenne pepper instead.
- Garnish - Top with toasted pine nuts and leftover chickpeas.
Kawarma Recipe Video
Making this recipe is really rather easy, but if visuals help you, definitely check out the video tutorial in the recipe section at the bottom of the post.
HOW TO MAKE KAWARMA
- Season and Marinate. Sprinkle the listed seasonings over the ground meat and mix together with your hands until thoroughly combined. Move to the fridge and marinate for 30 minutes.
- Make the Lemon Herb Sauce. Combine all of the lemon herb sauce ingredients and set aside so the flavors can meld together.
- Toast the Pine Nuts. Heat a small pan and toast the pine nuts, seasoned with salt and toasted until brown. Set aside to use as a garnish.
- Saute the Meat. Toss the oil and butter into a pan, melt down, and add the seasoned, marinated meat. Saute and brown, regularly stirring and breaking into smaller pieces until the meat has totally cooked through.
- Plate. Spoon hummus onto each plate. Rotate the plate while pressing down with the spoon to swirl. Scoop some of the cilantro jalapeño mixture on top and repeat the process for two layers. Sprinkle the seasoned ground meat on top.
- Add the Sauce and Garnish. Drizzle a generous amount of the lemon herb sauce on top and follow with the toasted pine nuts and any leftover chickpeas you might have after making the hummus.
- Serve. Serve each plate with plenty of warm pita, pita chips, or your favorite flatbread and enjoy!
Can you make kawarma with meat other than lamb?
Absolutely! I’ll start off by saying that the bold spice blend used in my ground lamb recipe is best suited for that particular protein, so you might want to alter some ingredients for your meat of choice.
Beef is the best meat substitute in this recipe. Ground chicken or turkey are also excellent, lean substitutes.
How long is kawarma good in the fridge?
The homemade hummus with lamb used in this recipe will last in your refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Should kawarma be eaten warm or cold?
Dealer’s choice! The ground lamb, in my opinion, is best when warm, but I do know several people who like to eat their hummus with lamb cold. I prefer the hummus room temperature and the lamb mixture just cooked! Warm kawarma served with warm pita is unmatched, but lavash is another bread substitute!
This post, originally published on Silk Road Recipes Jan. 20, 2021, was last updated with new content, photos and/or video in May, 2022.
Kawarma (Hummus with Lamb)
- 4 cups hummus (See Note 1)
- 1 lb ground lamb (or ground beef)
- 2 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- 2 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon zaatar spice (See Note 2)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Lemon Herb Sauce
- ¼ cup flat leaf parsley chopped
- 1 jalapeño seeded and finely chopped
- 4 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ¼ cup chickpeas
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- Mix all of the Lamb Mixture ingredients in a bowl thoroughly by hand. Cover and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- In a small bowl mix together the Lemon Herb Sauce ingredients and set aside to marinate.
- In a small pan lightly dry toast the pine nuts until golden brown and season with kosher salt. Set aside.
- Over medium-high heat in a large skillet or cast iron pan melt the butter and oil. Add the lamb meat mixture and brown, breaking up into small bits until cooked through, several minutes.
- Using a large spoon scoop up some of the plain hummus and divide evenly over serving plates. Press down in center of hummus with spoon and rotate plate and spoon in opposite directions to swirl. Repeat with second hummus (Cilantro Jalapeño Hummus) if using, and top with cooked lamb mixture.
- Spoon the lemon herb sauce on top and sprinkle the pine nuts and any reserved chickpeas (optional) for garnish. Serve with warm pita, pita chips or any Middle Eastern flatbread.
- This recipe (as pictured) uses 2 different hummus. You can make this with just 4 cups of plain hummus or 2 cups plain and 2 cups cilantro jalapeno hummus. To the hummus recipe: remove half from food processor and reserve. Add 1 bunch cilantro and 2 jalapeños (seeded) and puree with remaining hummus. Use both in this recipe (plain and green).
- Za’atar is a wonderful Middle Eastern spice blend found in most markets these days. I have my own recipe version (Lebanese Za’atar Spice Blend) or you can substitute oregano leaves.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.