November 1, 2021

Hummus With Soujok-Spiced Beef

Recipe: Hisham Assaad

Try this Hummus With Soujok-Spiced Beef from the new cookbook, Bayrut.

Soujok are Armenian spicy sausages and the flavor is so distinct that I love using them in other breakfast recipes, such as sausages and eggs on toast, or chopped up in shakshuka. Here, I have used the same spice mix to flavor the succulent meat topping that crowns this creamy hummus. Topping hummus with meat isn’t uncommon in the Levant. It’s a way to pump up the protein and fat in the dish and make it closer to a meal than a side dish.

This makes a larger batch of the spice mix than you will need, so store it in an airtight jar and use with any other meat dishes – in stews, or as a dry rub – or even sprinkle on popcorn. If you don’t have the list of spices in your cupboard, you could substitute 3 tablespoons of baharat (Lebanese 7-spice mix) with 1⁄2 teaspoon of fenugreek to keep the distinct soujok flavor and aroma.

This is my mom’s hummus recipe – she is known for it, so I had to share it with you. Bear in mind that everyone’s taste is personal when it comes to hummus, so you can adjust it to suit your own preference.

I like mine to have a distinct tahini flavor with a nice kick of lemon and prefer it without garlic, which makes it last longer in the fridge before spoiling. Hello…hummus on everything! We add the citric acid to enhance the lemony taste without diluting the hummus with a lot of lemon juice.


For the Hummus

  • 400 g (generous 1 3⁄4 cups) dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 150 g (generous 1⁄2 cup) tahini
  • 120 ml (1⁄2 cup) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1⁄4 tsp citric acid
  • 1 tbsp sea salt

For the Soujok

  • 250 g (9 oz) finely minced (ground) beef (20% fat)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons red pepper paste

For the Soujok Spice Mix

  • 1⁄2 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1⁄2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsps ground cumin
  • 2 tsps sea salt
  • 1⁄4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp ground fenugreek

To serve

  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter), plus extra for drizzling
  • 50 g (scant 1⁄2 cup) whole almonds and/or cashews
  • Pita bread


Yield: Serves 4

  1. Soak the dried chickpeas for the hummus overnight in plenty of water.
  2. Prepare the soujok spice mix by mixing all of the ground spices together.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the beef, garlic, pepper paste and 3 tablespoons of the spice mix and work with your hands until it is well combined. Leave to marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours, or ideally overnight, to develop the flavor.
  4. The next day, drain the chickpeas and place in a large saucepan, cover with fresh water and bring to the boil. Use a slotted spoon to skim off and discard the foam on the surface of the liquid. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 1⁄2–2 hours until the chickpeas are really soft and almost collapsing (the exact time can vary enormously depending on the chickpeas and the mineral content of the water where you live, so keep testing them until you are satisfied). Reserve 1 cup of the chickpea cooking water, then set the whole pan under running cold water to help remove the loose chickpea skins, which will float to the top. Scoop the skins out and discard. Strain the chickpeas and allow them to cool to room temperature.
  5. Place the cooled chickpeas in a food processor and pulse until creamy, adding a little of the cooking water to loosen, if necessary. The trick is to make them creamy before adding any further ingredients, otherwise you’ll never achieve super creamy hummus! Once the chickpeas are creamy, add the tahini, half of the lemon juice, the citric acid and the salt. Pulse to combine, then taste and adjust the flavor, adding more lemon juice to taste. A good hummus should have the perfect balance between a thick creamy texture and being smooth enough to scoop up with pita bread. It should never be runny.
  6. In a frying pan (skillet), heat the olive oil (or oil and butter) over a medium heat. Add the nuts and fry until golden, then remove with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels.
  7. Add the remaining oil to the same pan, then add the meat and fry for 5–7 minutes until well browned and most of the liquid has evaporated, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks.
  8. To serve, place around 1 cup of hummus into a small shallow bowl and shape it into a dome with the back of a spoon or a spatula. Gently press into the middle of the dome with the spatula and spin the plate with your other hand to create a deep well in the middle. Scoop some of the warm spiced beef into the well, drizzle with olive oil and top with the golden crunchy nuts. Serve with soft or toasted pita bread, cut into triangles.

Food photography © Liz and Max Haarala Hamilton


Bayrut: The Cookbook, by Hisham Asaad, published by Smith Street Books.