Contrary to the image portrayed in Don't Mess with the Zohan, Israelis do not brush their teeth or style their hair with hummus (chick pea spread, pronounced CHOO-moos). However, we do just about everything else with it. Eating a hot dog? Stick it in a pita with hummus. Eating bread? Dip it in hummus. Preparing chicken breast? Season it, sautee it, and serve it over hummus. In fact, just about the only thing that Israelis don't seem to do with hummus all that often is exactly what Americans do with hummus most often: use it as a dip for vegetables. (Am I wrong?)
Despite the fact that we can get about 100 different varieties of hummus in the grocery store, most Israelis know how to make their own. I find that homemade hummus is tastier and healthier (no preservatives) than anything in the grocery store, plus (if you use dry chick peas) much cheaper. It took me a while to post this recipe because I had to actually figure out measurements, but the hummus I made last night turned out really well-- AND I remembered to measure all the ingredients. My husband will vouch for this hummus!
Ingredients: 1 cup dry chick peas (garbanzo beans) 1 tsp salt 4 Tbs tahini (I use tahini made from the whole sesame seed-- it looks brown so I assume it's healthier :) Juice from one lemon (about 2 Tbs) 3 garlic cloves, minced 1/2 tsp cumin (optional)
1. Soak the chick peas in plenty of cold water for a few hours or overnight. (The chick peas will just about cover the bottom of a medium saucepan. Fill water about half way up the saucepan.)
2. Generously salt the water (I take a few large pinches of kosher salt-- be generous because this is what will salt the hummus itself) and simmer the chick peas for a few hours, until soft. While the chick peas are still warm, spoon them into a food processor along with the rest of the ingredients. Using the food processor blade, blend to a smooth paste, adding enough of the liquid from the chick peas to make a smooth paste. (One of the great things about using warm, freshly-cooked chick peas is that the paste will get a bit more solid as it cools. So add plenty of water so that you get an easily-blended paste, about the consistency of mashed potatoes.)
3. Transfer the hummus to a serving or storage container. Add topings if you wish. The easiest topping is a bit of drizzled olive oil and a sprinkling of paprika. You could also drizzle olive oil and sprinkle a different spice or herb, such as cumin or zatar. Or, you could chop up some parsley and whole chick peas, set on top, and drizzle with olive oil. Chopped olives would be good too. Use your creativity! This recipe makes about a pint of hummus.
In my experience, hummus lasts over a week in a sealed tupperware in the fridge. In fact, er, we've probably eaten it when it's at least two weeks old. I've never tried to freeze it-- does that work?
A note about my recipe: I don't include as much tahini or lemon juice as some do, because I don't like a bitter flavor. I do like a LOT of garlic... so adjust according to your taste. :) I don't always add in cumin, and I sometimes add just a pinch-- I don't like a strong cumin taste. If you want to make reddish hummus, add some spicy paprika to the paste itself! Also, sometimes my chick peas never seem to get totally soft when I cook them, but if I blend them up when they're warm the hummus still turns out smooth and delicious.
And, er, if you want to make the presentation a bit nicer, pick a nicer container and wipe its sides after you put in the hummus. Sorry that the picture above is mildly disgusting.
My husband and I (and our cat Zeus) made aliyah to northern Israel in April, 2008. In Israel, we adopted two street kittens who have proceeded to make up for kittenhoods of deprivation by growing remarkably fat and shiny. In October of 2011, we welcomed our first daughter, Nitsah. Moving to a new country demands both a sense of wonder and a sense of humor. In this blog, I'll try to share both! DISCLAIMER: I actually can't tell you how to be Israeli, because I'm still working on it myself. But at least we can muddle towards Israeli-ness together!