21.3.11

Israeli-Style Hummus

You know what, while we're on the subject of Israel, let's learn about hummus. It's a big, big deal in Israel and eaten with practically anything. It's so ubiquitous that the Hebrew word for chickpea is actually just "hummus". It's eaten with pita, on sandwiches, as a side dish, with falafel, with meat...with everything! I found myself eating hummus with a spoon in Israel. Israeli hummus is fantastic, so creamy and flavorful. Here in the states, you can find similar styles (Sabra makes a pretty delicious version...), but it's easy to make your own. For a while, I was confused why mine wasn't as creamy and smooth as the hummus I ate in Israel, until it finally clicked that I needed to make a tahini sauce first. It makes all the difference...
Making hummus is not an exact science. I tend to add stuff, taste it, and then continue to add and blend until I feel I've gotten it right. Skinning your chickpeas will make an even creamier hummus, I suppose, but I don't think it's necessary. 
Sometimes, though, things don't work out as planned. For example! On Friday nights on Kibbutz, we had a big communal Shabbat dinner that generally included challah, hummus, tahini, soup and meat- usually chicken or roast beef. Months later, when I was in Ireland with one of my kibbutz friends, Anna, we decided to make a Shabbat meal for our hosts. We were really excited to make hummus, only to find that in our tiny village, tahini paste was nowhere to be found. In an attempt to improvise, we toasted sesame seeds and blended them, but that did  not work. It gave us a strange, gummy mass that I secretly thought was pretty tasty to snack on, but definitely not tahini paste. But you move on. We had tahini-less hummus. Not authentic, but still excellent. 
I made a batch of hummus today but didn't take a picture. I didn't even think to blog it, actually, but then I thought...why not? So the picture I have below is actually from that meal in Ireland. See, it still looks pretty good! In case you're wondering, the other items pictured are shnitzel and challah, both of which Anna and I made that day as well! I will eventually post recipes for the both of them...one recipe at a time...


Hummus
Ingredients
16 oz cooked chickpeas, either from a can, or dried beans that have been soaked and then cooked
1 lemon
1-3 cloves garlic (depends on how much you like garlic, since it will be raw!), crushed or chopped
1/2 or 1 cup of tahini paste
1 tsp of parsley, finely chopped
Olive oil
Water
Salt
Cumin
Paprika
   
Preparation
First, make the tahini. In a bowl, whisk the tahini with garlic. Add the juice from half of the lemon and whisk. The tahini will suddenly tighten up and be really thick and strange. Don't worry. You did nothing wrong. Add some warm water, splash by splash, and keep whisking. It will suddenly re-loosen up, change in colour (it will become quite a few shades lighter) and be thick and creamy. Season with salt and chopped parsley. Set aside.
Drain your chickpeas. If using dried, reserve some of the cooking water (a cup or so, though you may not use it all). If using canned, reserve some of the liquid.
Put your chickpeas in a food processor and pulse. Add tahini- you don't need to use all of it! It really depends on taste! So add some, taste it, and if you think it needs more, add more. 
Squeeze over the rest of your lemon, and season liberally with salt and cumin. Add a splash of olive oil and some cooking water or the liquid from the can.
Blend again, taste, and add more of whatever you think it needs.  
Transfer to a bowl. With a spoon, create a swirl in the hummus. Drizzle over olive oil, and then sprinkle over some paprika and chopped parsley. 
That's it! Serve with warm pita, crackers, veggie sticks...really anything as a dip. Or, you can spread it on a sandwich. I happen to love hummus with grilled meat. Anything goes. Eat it with a spoon. Just enjoy!
 !בתאבון

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