Quick Trivia: Snatching the record from Israel, Lebanon holds the world record for the largest bowl of hummus. Check out the article and photo here. According to the article, the Lebanese chefs used 8 tons of boiled hummus, 2 tons of tahini, 2 tons of lemon juice and 154 lbs. of olive oil for their dish
“Khoo-moos”… “hum-iss” … “hom-us” … – meaning “chickpeas” in Hebrew – this word takes some getting used to. I never felt quite comfortable saying “khoo-moos” in Israel and now that I’m back in California, I don’t feel quite comfortable calling it boring old “hum-iss.”
I think it can be hard for Americans to understand why anyone would wage war over hummus. Particularly if you’ve been buying store-bought hummus for most of your life. However, I guarantee you that more than one friendship has ended, relationship dissolved and family feud begun over hummus. Do you “wipe up” the hummus when you eat it? Or do you use a fork? Do you like the creamy yet fluffy Jerusalem hummus? Or the more chunky Galilean hummus? Is it Israeli? Palestinian? Syrian?
Every city you go to in Israel makes a different type of hummus, only more complicated by the ever-increasing number of restaurants within each city boasting its own. The two best hummus restaurants I’ve been to Israel are: Ben Sira hummus in Jerusalem and Abu Hassan in Jaffa. This recipe comes inspired by and loosely instructed from a Ben Sira chef.
Hummus is served in a variety of ways in Israel: with meat, with mushrooms, with fava beans, with fried cauliflower, you name it, it’s there. It’s always served with a small dish of pickles and raw onion, and most people eat it alongside an “Israeli” salad. I put Israeli in quotes because you will see this salad also referred to as an Arab salad, Shirazi Salad, Syrian salad… you get the drift. My favorite hummus is with mushrooms, so that’s what I’ve got for you this week. The topping also happens to be delicious mixed in with some quinoa and asparagus.
As an aside, in Palo Alto, there is a new Israeli eatery opened called Oren’s Hummus Shop. This is the closest I have come to tasting authentic Israeli food in the Bay Area. I went with a friend recently and and, amidst Hebrew speaking customers and Israeli waiters, it was not only delicious food but an authentic experience. The menu was comprised of shakshuka, hummus, Moroccan carrot salad, their own version of complimentary hamutzim (they brought pickled cabbage), pita, varieties of Middle Eastern desserts and much more – all names which I am sure are familiar with by now. If you’re near Palo Alto, you should definitely stop in. Check out their facebook page here or some Yelp reviews here.
Hummus will serve about 6 hungry people; topping serves 3 people; salad serves 2-3 people (hummus will stay good in the fridge for about 2 days only)
What you need:
plenty of olive oil
3 c dry chickpeas
1 tsp baking soda
lots of water
juice of 3 lemons
1 garlic clove (optional)
1 tsp salt
1/2 c raw tehina
fresh parsley; chopped (to garnish
paprika/cayenne pepper to garnish
a couple of pickles on the side; just for fun
Mushroom and Onion Topping
1 tsp cumin
2 tblsp oil
1 c fresh parsley; chopped
2.5 c mushrooms; coarsely chopped and sliced
2 tblsp lemon juice
2 pinches of sumac
2 small garlic cloves; minced
3 persian cucumbers; finely chopped
2 medium sized tomatoes; finely chopped
1/4 c red onion; finely chopped
juice of 1-2 lemons
a drizzle of olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
How to do it:
Soak your chickpeas overnight in enough water to cover the chickpeas by an inch or so. Change the water twice. The next day, place all chickpeas in a large pot with the baking soda and just enough water to cover the chickpeas, but not more. Turn heat on high and bring to a boil. Add another cup of water and after the second boil, lower the heat and allow to simmer for at least 2 hours. Keep adding water all the while so that the chickpeas are submerged under water the whole time. The chickpeas should become a dark, caramel color, totally soft, the shell peeling off, and easily smushable between your fingers. Place that pot in the fridge with the cooking water over night. The chickpeas will form a gel (so key!) because of the starch content of the chickpeas. At this point, you can put the pot back on the burner to warm them up a bit, though this is totally an optional step. Throw all the ingredients into a food processor – add the oil last to create a soft and creamy texture. Serve shortly after so hummus is still kind of warm. ish. Top the hummus with the mushroom & onion recipe below and serve a salad and some pickles on the side! Enjoy!
For the topping, heat 1 tblsp oil over high heat. Cut your onion into thin rounds and then cut those rounds into half moons. When the oil is sizzling, add your onions and give them one quick swish around the pan. When they’ve begun to brown, add the mushrooms and another tblsp of oil. Give a few shakes of salt (you can add more later) and pepper, your cumin, lemon juice, garlic, sumac and parsley. Cook for about 10 minutes, moving everything around every couple of minutes so it doesn’t burn.
Chop all your wonderful ingredients, drizzle oil and squeeze some lemon juice over the salad. A touch of salt and pepper and a few shakes of sumac over the top and you’re on your way to a really happy lunch. You can also common to top this with tehina.