Saturday, 13 February 2016

Let the hummus madness begin!

There are many things about Israel that I doubt I'll ever understand, but one of the things that have puzzled me ever since the early days of our love affair is hummus. That dip, made of chickpeas is something of a national dish and people eat it all the time, everywhere. On its own, with falafel, in sandwiches, as part of a meze spread... in the movie Zohan (which depicts the Israel-Palestine conflict as humanely as Adam Sandler possibly can...) it's even used as a hair styling product.

For the first years I just kept politely eating it until it started coming out of my ears. Then I finally had to admit that I didn't even particularly like it. Though that of course is something I'd never say out loud in Israel. I made that mistake once and the memory of the silence that fell into the car still makes me shudder. "What. Do. You. Mean. You. Don't. Like. Hummus? Whodoesn'tlikehummusImeanwhat'stherenottolike?"

Israelis are very passionate about their hummus, to a point of comical at times. There are even restaurants specialized in hummus, called hummusias. 

When caught in the middle of a debate about the best hummus (they do happen), I tend to go for Abu Hassan in Jaffa. A friend of mine swears by a vendor at Carmel Market and another moved into his current building because he thinks the place downstairs sells the best hummus in the world.

It's taken me over a decade and several trips, but I can finally sigh with relief and proudly say I've seen the light. I've come to realize the reason for my antipathy is tahini. As long as the recipe goes easy on tahini, I'm in. 

For a new twist try different veggies, herb-infused oils or herbs. Even my basic recipe calls for coriander and parsley, which purists would probably frown upon. So, feel free to use only one of the two or omit them altogether!


400 g can chickpeas (drained weight 240 g)
1 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp mild olive oil
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp finely chopped coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp water

Measure the ingredients into a food processor. Blizz until velvety smooth. Check the taste and add more salt/ lemon juice if needed. If it's too thick, add water a tbsp at a time until you've reach the desired consistency.

Drizzle with a little oil, sprinkle a little paprika on top and serve. For instance with pita or za'atar sprinkled flatbread crisps. 

And here's a wine that charmed with its playful label, though it's really its fuss-free nature and versatility that has made me reach for bottle of this French red quite a bit in recent weeks. 

The Long Little Dog from Languedoc Roussillon region is a medium-bodied blend of Grenache, Syrah, Marselan and Petit Verdot full of ripe berries. Smooth tannins make for a easy-drinking and affordable everyday wine which sits well with a variety of dishes.  Steer clear from heavy, gamey and very spicy  meat dishes , though.

Owing to its lightness and versatility it's also a great choice for the picnic season (trust me - it's on its way...), also because of its impossible-to-break-and-have-another-accident-plastic bottle!

With this recipe we'll kick off hummus madness on the blog. Next week will be all about hummus and its countless variations (stay tunes especially for the roasted carrot one! Ooh, and the sun-dried tomato one, too!)





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