The connection between hummus and tortilla chips isn't as farfetched as it may seem. Lebanese immigrants have a long history in Mexico, especially in the states of Puebla and Yucatán. I ate at a Yucatecan restaurant in Los Angeles once and found kibbe (a Middle Eastern meatball made with ground lamb and bulgur) listed among the appetizers. A regional specialty of Puebla is tacos arabes -- tacos served on pita bread rather than tortillas. And the Mexican standard tacos al pastor -- tacos filled with spice-rubbed meat sliced off a vertical spit -- was, by some accounts, inspired by Middle Eastern shawarma.
Hummus ma lahma is a hearty Lebanese treatment of hummus that tops the already rich chickpea puree with spiced ground beef. Here's what I imagine a second- or third-generation Lebanese-Mexican in Yucatán might do with this dish: give the beef a local flavor with hot peppers, olives, raisins, and capers. The beef topping is inspired by the filling in a Yucatecan specialty, queso relleno (hollowed-out balls of Gouda filled with seasoned ground meat), and is inspired by Rick Bayless' pork-based queso relleno filling.
- 1 14-ounce can chickpeas, drained
- 3 tablespoons tahini
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/3 cup water (or as needed)
- salt to taste
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 large hot banana chile, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 tablespoons neutral cooking oil, such as canola
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/3 teaspoon ground allspice
- 2/3 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/8 cup capers
- 1/3 cup chopped green olives
- 1 large pinch dried (or chopped fresh) epazote (optional)
- 2 teaspoons vinegar
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- Puree all ingredients except water and salt in a food processor until smooth. With the motor running, gradually add water as needed to obtain a soft but spreadable consistency.
- Add salt to taste.
- Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, chile, and garlic and cook until tender.
- Add spices and stir several seconds until fragrant.
- Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink.
- Stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer 20 minutes to blend the flavors. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
Put the room-temperature hummus in a serving bowl (preferably a wide, shallow one, but any kind will do). Top with some of the hot beef mixture (you'll have some left over; it makes a great filling for tacos, empanadas, or a ball of molten Gouda cheese). Garnish with sliced hot chiles and/or chopped cilantro. Serve with pita wedges and/or tortilla chips.