Delicately spiced, crispy ground beef with caramelized onions and pine nuts atop creamy Israeli style hummus—it's a stunning combination of textures and flavors. Here's how to make your own hummus im basar ("with meat") from scratch, or take a shortcut and use hummus from the store.
Hummus with spiced beef, or hummus im basar ("with meat," in Hebrew) is a favorite variation at Israeli Mizrachi restaurants, which serve all the hummus and salads along with meat dishes like pargiyot (grilled marinated chicken thighs) and shipudim (skewered grilled chicken, beef, or lamb). (It's not generally available at hummusiyyot, or hummus restaurants, which stick with the basics and are more breakfast (yep), brunch, and lunch joints.) If you've never tried the combination of creamy hummus and crispy, flavorful beef, it's an absolute winner.
Making the spiced beef topping
Making the beef topping is very easy: just pull out a few jars from your spice cabinet, dice an onion and garlic, and brown everything up with some pine nuts. The spices you'll need for the beef are:
- Sweet paprika
- Hot paprika (you can substitute another hot pepper powder that you like) - the amount is very mild, so don't worry if you don't like heat, or add more if you do
- Salt and pepper
First, the onions go on to get sauteed, then the garlic, followed by the pine nuts. Last is the meat and spices. Be sure to break up the meat often as it browns—I have a machootel (Yiddish for "thingy") that I love for this, called a Hamburger Meat Chopper.
Making hummus from scratch
Making a superb hummus from scratch definitely takes time, but isn't difficult. You can skip this step if you need a quick meal and just brown the meat and serve with store-bought hummus. However, if you have the time to plan a day ahead, you can make your own, wonderful, fresh hummus to serve with the spiced beef. I have a full, step-by-step guide in my big hummus post, How To Make Creamy, Smooth Israeli Hummus. But here is an overview of the directions included in the recipe below. Just a note, the recipe is a double batch of my Israeli hummus, since you'll need more for individual portions.
To make hummus, you'll need to:
- Soak the chickpeas for 8-12 hours—overnight, or from the morning for cooking in the evening.
- Cook the chickpeas with plenty of water and a pinch of baking soda, bringing them to a boil, skimming the foam, then simmering for 2 hours until they're meltingly soft.
- Prepare tahini with lemon juice, a bit of garlic, and salt.
- Process the cooked chickpeas into a paste in a blender or food processor, then mix in that tahini.
Hummus is optimally served at room temperature, so give it some time to cool off before topping it with the spiced beef.
Assembling the dish
To serve, dish the hummus into individual serving bowl. Using the back of a spoon, make an indent in the center. Pile in about a quarter of the meat topping into the indent and serve a bowl to each diner.
Hummus with Spiced Beef (meat)
- Blender or food processor, for making the hummus
- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- 4 cups water
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ½ cup raw tahini
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ tsp minced garlic - optional
Make the hummus (begin 8+ hours ahead):
- Soak the chickpeas: Soak the chickpeas 8 hours or overnight in the 2 cups water.
- Cook the chickpeas: Drain the chickpeas and place in a pot. Fill the pot with about 4 cups of water, covering the chickpeas by 1“ / 3 cm or so. Add the baking soda. Bring to a boil over high heat. Skim off the white foam that forms at the top. Turn down the heat to medium-low so that the hummus is at at a medium simmer. Cook for 2 hours, adding more water as needed, until the hummus is very soft.
- Prepare the tahini: Combine the raw tahini with the lemon juice, salt, and minced garlic, if using. Whisk until the tahini lightens.
- Purée with tahini: Drain the cooked chickpeas, if liquid remains. Leave aside a small amount of whole chickpeas, if desired for topping. In a food processor or blender, purée the chickpeas into a smooth paste. Add the tahini and pulse to combine.
Prepare the spiced beef:
- Combine the ground beef and spices. Using your hands, knead the spices evenly into the meat. Set aside for 15 minutes (or more, in the refrigerator).
- Dice the onion. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pine nuts and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
- Add the seasoned beef to the skillet. Brown, breaking up into pieces. Cook the beef until cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Assemble the dish:
- Divide the hummus evenly among three plates or bowls. Using the back of a spoon, make an indentation in the center of the hummus. Spoon in a quarter of the beef mixture and serve.