One of my favorite things about our recent trip to the Middle East was the food. On our 13-hour plan ride from Jordan to Chicago last Saturday, I sat next to a lovely Palestinian-American gentleman. He was born in Jordan and owns a Middle Eastern restaurant in Chicago. I don’t usually like to chat it up with seatmates, but this guy was very interesting. In addition to talking about Middle Eastern cuisine (which I am completely in love with now), we talked about the Israel/Palestine conflict and he educated me a bit about Islam and teachings from the Quran… it was fascinating. He also told me he makes the best hummus on Earth! Unfortunately I couldn’t get the recipe out of him – he doesn’t even share it with his employees – but he told me the secret is how long you soak the chickpeas. He didn’t give me any more details than that so I had to do some research on my own. The other tip I learned from him is there is a special hummus machine that has more horsepower than a regular blender or Cuisinart. This ensures the proper thick, creamy consistency… who knew?
Anway… my mother-in-law bought a Jordanian cookbook on our trip and I tried the hummus recipe for a gathering I had at my house this week. I have to say, it was pretty close to perfect. Several people have asked for my “secret recipe.” Since I don’t plan on opening a Middle Eastern restaurant any time soon, here it is! Plan ahead because it does take time, but it is so worth it! I will never buy store-bought hummus again, if I can help it!
OK, so now that you know the backstory, here is the recipe!
Chickpeas Puree (Hummus bil tahini)
The cookbook notes that it is the “number one appetizer in the Middle East.”
Serves 4 (I quadrupled the recipe to get the most bang for my buck since it does take a while to make.)
1 cup cooked chickpeas (see below) or canned
½ teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed with a pinch of salt
¼ cup lemon juice (I used fresh-squeezed and I think that is where the magic happens! Note: 3 large lemons did not quite yield 1 cup of juice.)
2 tablespoons sesame paste (aka, tahini. Look for it near the peanut butter at the grocery store.)
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
½ teaspoon ground cumin
SOAKING THE GARBANZO BEANS
1 cup garbanzo beans*
4 cups water
Soak beans overnight. Drain and rinse beans. Add 4 cups of water for every 1 cup of garbanzo beans. Liquid should be 1-2 inches above the top of the beans. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours. OR pressure cook 12-15 minutes.
*1 cup of beans yields 2-2 1/2 cups of cooked beans.
*Cooked beans can be stored up to 1 week in the refrigerator and up to 6 months in the freezer. (Good to know!)
1. Drain warm chickpeas and reserve 1 tablespoon.
2. Beat chickpeas in food processor.
3. Blend chickpeas with the sesame paste, lemon juice, crushed garlic and salt into a puree. Adjust flavor and consistency with lemon juice and salt if needed. (Hummus should be thick and smooth.)
4. Serve in a shallow bowl. Pour olive oil in the center and garnish with the reserved chickpeas, chopped parsley and cumin.
Serve with sliced cucumbers and warm pita bread. Enjoy!
|Delicious, fresh pita right out of the oven in Jerash, Jordan.|
Source: Jordanian Cooking Step by Step by Lina Chebaro Baydoun and Nada Mosbah Halawani