Chickpeas and Lamb on Toasted Pita with Tahini Sauce

Reem Kassis

The Palestinian Table, Philadelphia

“This is the quintessential Palestinian brunch dish. Humble ingredients like chickpeas and tahini are transformed into something magical when combined with toasted bread and topped with succulent small pieces of fried lamb or beef and pine nuts. As much as we love to use bread to mop up our hummus, in this particular dish we toast the bread and put it at the bottom, then eat it with a spoon. For a vegetarian version, just use pine nuts for the topping.” —Reem Kassis in her 2018 Beard Award–nominated The Palestinian Table.


Lemon Dressing:

  • 1 large garlic clove, finely diced
  • 1 green chile, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Lamb and Chickpeas: 

  • 1 tablespoon butter or ghee
  • 1 pound 2 ounces lamb leg meat or beef sirloin, cut into1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon Nine Spice Mix
  • Two 14-ounce cans chickpeas
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

Yogurt and Tahini sauce:

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) tahini
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) yogurt
  • 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt

To serve:

  • 3 large, thin Lebanese pita breads 
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) toasted pine nuts 
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Red chile flakes or pomegranate seeds (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the pita breads into 3/4-inch squares and put on a baking sheet. Bake the pita in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until they are dry and crisp and starting to darken in color.Move them around with a wooden spoon from time to time as they crisp. (This step can be done a couple of days in advance.)

Make the lemon dressing: whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl; set aside.

Make the meat: add the ghee to a large skillet (or frying pan), and once sizzling, tip in the meat, sprinkle with the Nine Spice Mix, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until all liquid released by the meat evaporates and the pieces are nicely browned.

While the meat is cooking, put the chickpeas and cumin into a pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil then simmer on very low heat, keeping them warm, until the meat is done.

Make the yogurt and tahini sauce: put the tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and salt into a large bowl and stir to combine; the sauce will be thick and sticky. Remove about 1/2–3/4 cup of the hot chickpea water and gradually mix with the tahini. You want a consistency similar to maple syrup: thick but pourable.

To assemble the dish, spread out the pita in a large, deep serving platter and spoon half the tahnini sauce over the top. Setting aside about 2 tablespoons of the chickpeas for garnish, use a ladle to scoop the remaining hot chickpeas, along with some broth, and spread them over the bread. You want the bread to soak up the liquid but not become mushy, so add just enough broth, about 1/2 cup.

Pour the tahini and yogurt mixture over the chickpeas. Top with the meat and pine nuts, and garnish with the reserved chickpeas, parsley, and chile flakes or pomegranate seeds. Drizzle over the remaining dressing and serve straight away.


Adapted from The Palestinian Table by Reem Kassis (Phaidon, 2017)


6 to 8 servings