Bill Higgins is a restaurateur extraordinaire here in the Bay Area (Bix, the Buckeye Roadhouse, Tra Vigne, Fog City Diner) and I consider him both a mentor and a great friend. He and his wife, Vanessa, a culinary-school graduate, are regulars at our family functions and potlucks.

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  • ½ cup coarse bulgur wheat
  • 1 medium white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 3 pounds ground lamb
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons five-spice powder
  • Canola oil, for deep-frying

Garlicky Hummus

  • 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 5 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Paprika


In a mixing bowl, combine the bulgur with 2 cups water. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Pour off any water that has not been absorbed, placing your palm on the surface of the soaked bulgur and pressing to squeeze out the moisture. In a food processor, finely chop the onions, bell pepper, and parsley. Transfer the chopped vegetables to a large mixing bowl and add the bulgur, lamb, salt, pepper, and five-spice powder. Use your hands to blend the mixture thoroughly. If the mixture starts to feel warm, add a piece of ice or two to keep it cold.

Roll the lamb mixture into small balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten the balls slightly. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Heat a few inches of canola oil in a wok or frying pan to 400°F. Fry the kafta, a few at a time, for 1 or 2 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain and keep warm while you fry the remaining kafta.

To make the Hummus

Combine the garbanzos, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor and mix until well blended and creamy. With the machine still running, slowly add the boiling water and continue to blend until the hummus is light and fluffy, about another minute.

Scrape the hummus into a serving bowl and drizzle with the olive oil. Top with a sprinkle of paprika.