Hummus with Lamb Ragù and Harissa

Alon Shaya

Shaya, New Orleans

Featuring a lusciously smooth chickpea base, and topped with a decadent duck fat–laced ragù spiked with harissa, this spread served at the 2016 JBFA–winning Best New Restaurant is deserving of far more than relegation as a hors d’oeuvre. 



  • 1 pound dried garbanzo beans
  • 1 tablespoon plus 3 teaspoons baking soda, divided
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 5 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 8 tablespoons tahini, mixed well
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Lamb Ragù: 

  • 6 tablespoons duck fat (or schmaltz or extra virgin olive oil)
  • 2 pounds ground lamb shoulder
  • 1 large carrot, diced very small
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced very small
  • 1/2 stalk celery, diced very small
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 sprigs thyme, leaves only, minced
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup tomato purée
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground caraway seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1/4 cup harissa (homemade or storebought)


Make the hummus: combine the garbanzo beans, 2 teaspoons baking soda, and 6 cups water in a large bowl and refrigerate for 12 hours. After the beans have soaked, drain and place them into a large baking pan.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Dust the soaked garbanzos with 1 tablespoon of baking soda. Place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and place in a colander, rinse the excess baking soda from the beans and place them into a large pot.

To the large pot, add 10 cups water, the garlic cloves, and the remaining teaspoon of baking soda and turn heat to medium. Bring the water to a simmer, cover with the lid, and cook for 1 hour, stirring approximately every 20 minutes. As you stir, the skins of the garbanzos will float to the top—use a fine mesh strainer to remove as many of the skins from the top of the pot as possible. The beans should be just splitting apart and have a very creamy texture. Drain the beans and cooked garlic and then purée in a food processor for 5 minutes.

While the food processor is still on, add 1/4 cup water and the lemon juice, salt, and cumin. Process until the mixture is very smooth. Slowly pour in the tahini and then the olive oil. The hummus should be light and airy. It’s best served warm that day but can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Make the lamb ragù: in a heavy-bottomed pot over high heat, melt the fat until it’s smoking. Add the lamb, breaking it apart into an even layer, and leave it alone—seriously, don’t touch it at all! This is the key to building flavor. When all the juices have evaporated from the pot and the meat is sizzling, give the meat one good stir to break it up with your spoon, then lower the heat to medium and leave it alone again.

After about 10 minutes, when the meat is uniformly golden, add the carrots, onions, celery, and garlic, giving everything a good stir to thoroughly combine. Leave the pot alone for 4 to 5 minutes, until the vegetables have softened and evenly browned.

Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate. Let it toast in the pot; when it starts to give off a roasted tomato aroma, add the wine and thyme. Stir and allow it to reduce for 1 to 2 minutes. Once the wine has absorbed into the meat, add the chicken stock, tomato purée, salt, and spices. Decrease the heat to low, put a lid on the pot, and let the contents braise for about 1 hour, returning occasionally to give everything a little stir.

Once the meat is very tender and the vegetables have all but disappeared, with no remaining liquid, give it a taste and add a bit more salt, if you like. Remove the pot from the heat and swirl in the butter until it melts into the ragù.

To plate, place approximately 1 cup of hummus on a plate. Use a large spoon to make a well in the center of the hummus and spoon a 1⁄2 cup of the ragù into the well. Drizzle with the harissa and enjoy with warm pita bread.


6 servings