Traditional Hummus

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I don’t remember the first time that I tried hummus, but I know that I certainly love it. It’s healthy, relatively low-fat, and can be served with a variety of accompaniments: vegetables, bagel chips, pretzels, pita bread, and the list goes on and on. For the longest time I made a short-cut version of hummus that didn’t use tahini, which is what makes hummus truly authentic. The short-cut version tasted fabulous, but didn’t have the creamy texture that you’ll find when you order hummus at a restaurant. Enter tahini.

Tahini, quite simply, is a paste made of ground sesame seeds. It is a staple not only in hummus but also in many other Middle Eastern recipes. Using tahini is the key to achieving that creamy texture that authentic hummus is known for. Some people have difficulty finding tahini in their neighbhorhood grocery stores, but I have never had an issue. I have seen it located in a number of places – in the “international” aisle where there are sections for Italian, Mexican, Asian, Middle Eastern, etc. and also in the condiments aisle stocked near the olives and artichokes. If you don’t see it, you can always ask an employee if they carry it. If you still haven’t had luck and really want to try it, you can order it from a number of websites including Shamra.com.

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If you happen to be in the DC Metro area or its accompanying Maryland or Virginia suburbs, check out Moby Dick’s House of Kebab. It’s sort of a Middle Eastern fast food restaurant and they have fabulous hummus. Served with thick, warm pita, you could make a meal out of the hummus alone. Or, if you want a “real” meal with hummus as a side dish, have a gyro – they’re great!

If you’re feeling adventurous, take a stab at making homemade pita bread. You’ll never go back to store-bought!

Traditional Hummus

Yield: 2 cups

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup water
6 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
½ teaspoon salt (I prefer kosher)
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Parsley for garnish

Directions:

1. Combine water and lemon juice in a measuring cup.

2. Whisk together the tahini and olive oil in a small bowl or large measuring cup.

3. Set aside 2 tablespoons chickpeas for garnish.

4. Process remaining chickpeas, garlic, salt and cumin in a food processor until almost fully ground, about 15 seconds. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula.

5. With machine running, add lemon juice/water mixture in a steady stream through the feed tube. Scrape down bowl and continue to process for 1 minute.

6. With machine running, add the tahini/oil mixture in a steady stream through the feed tube, and continue to process until the hummus is smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds, scraping down the bowl as needed.

7. Transfer the hummus to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for at least 30 minutes.

8. When ready to serve, sprinkle with the reserved chickpeas, parsley, and drizzle with olive oil.

Serving: Serve hummus with your favorite vegetables, pita chips, naan, or anything you prefer!

Storing: Hummus should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

(Adapted from Cook's Illustrated, May/June 2008)