Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Hummus, pitta bread and spiced beef patties.

With the abundance of steak mince that arrived yesterday it made sense to make something with it tonight.
Since we had pizza yesterday it seemed a bit wrong to have pasta, which unfortuently ruled out the obvious and easy options of lasagne, bolognese and meatballs.
Instead the mince was turned into little patties to go with hummus and pitta bread - two things we eat often, so I was glad to have the oppertunity to make them from scratch. The meat was coarsely ground, which made it perfect for the job of making sure the finished product had lots of texture.
If you can't find sumac, it can be replaced with some lemon zest.

Serves 4
1kg steak mince
1 shallot
3 cloves garlic
1 red chilli
mustard seeds
1 egg

How to do it:
1. Finely chop the shallot, coriander, red chilli and garlic.
2. Lightly toast the mustard seeds in a dry pan.
3. In a big bowl combine the mince, shallot, coriander, garlic, chilli, mustard seeds, spices, salt, egg and breadcrumbs.
4. Shape into tiny burgers or 'sausages', kofta-style, and cook in the oven, a pan, or on the barbeque.

You can of course omit or add any flavourings you wish. These would also work with minced lamb.
Another variation would be using pork mince (with red chilli, coriander, garlic and ginger) and rolling them up in big lettuce leaves with a chilli, lime and nam pla dipping sauce on the side. Yum!
Go vegetarian - for a chickpea overload, make little falafels instead of the meat patties.

Hummus is very rewarding to make from scratch, because it requires only a few minutes of your time, costs pennies and is absurdly easy to do, but what you get out of it tastes fantastic. Remember the salt - chickpeas are a delicious but bland canvas and need to be seasoned well. This recipe is hummus at its most basic, and can therefore adapt to any additions you may choose to throw at it - black pepper, coriander, paprika, chilli...

garlic cloves
lemon juice
olive oil

How to do it:
It couldn't be simpler - go blender-happy and blitz the stuff into oblivion!
Well, okay, not quite. I blended the chickpeas, garlic, salt and tahini first for a bit and gradually added the lemon juice and olive oil. This ensures you get the texture you like best.
I didn't put any measurements down, because it's one of those things that does not require a recipe. You just blend away, and taste as you go along until you're happy with it.
I ended up using five cloves of garlic and the juice of 1 & 1/2 lemons, when I thought it would only come to about two cloves and half a lemon.
Point is, it's all down to personal taste so just go with it!

And lastly, onto the pittas. I used Jill Dupleix's recipe, which can be found here.
I'm assuming I rolled them too thickly, because they weren't slightly hollow as pittas should be. Also, I added some coriander to them to echo the coriander in the meat which is why you can see some weird dark green flecks in the dough.
They tasted really good though, and I would urge you to try making them - people are very impressed but they're so easy to do! I'll just have to remember to roll them thinner next time!

All in all, a very successful dinner. I felt all glowy and ethereal from cooking all day. I love being in the kitchen when it's quiet, just slowly and calmly working through everything.


  1. Oh my days Sophie - this looks amazing. Send some my way!?

  2. HA! I just made my first batch of hummus this weekend and it's almost exactly your recipe. Well - if you could call it a recipe:) I love that hummus is so friendly to experiments. You just make it the way you like it! I've never made my own pita bread and it's SO hard to find good pita bread. Maybe I'll make some homemade pita to go w/ my homemade hummus:)

  3. You most definitely should!
    I tried making them again, but rolled them thinner, and they puffed up beautifully just like proper ones. They're a lot easier to make than they sound :)
    Thanks for commenting by the way! I really appreciate it.