I first ate hummus in Cairo almost twenty years ago. I ate a lot of it. Arab bread dipped into ground chickpeas blended with ground sesame, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt.
Back home, no one seemed to know what hummus was. Just another strange ethnic foreign food no one wanted to try (like the time I took 20 pieces of kibby to my 3rd grade homeroom picnic, and brought 19 home… not counting the one I ate).
Not only is hummus really, really good for you (high in protein, fiber, good olive oil fats, no gluten or cholesterol), in the good ol’ medieval days it was believed to be an aphrodisiac (even thought to increase sperm count), and was considered helpful for nursing mothers (one can lead to the other).*
Someone must have done their homework, because hummus is the new salsa. Once a niche item, tubs of all makes, models and flavors can be found everywhere, from Walmart to gas stations.
But if you want to make it at home, here’s my take on the Mid-East simple staple. My standard for how good it is comes from my wife: If she likes it, that’s good enough for me. And she likes it a lot… which makes me hopeful in the validity of certain medieval beliefs.
ABU SADIE HUMMUS
2 15oz. cans chickpeas (drained but save some juice)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup water (from saved chickpea juice)
5 tablespoons tahini (ground sesame seeds)
1 lemon, juiced
3-4 cloves chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Throw it all in a blender or food-processor, and blend until smooth. You may need to add a little more olive oil and/or water if it’s too thick. And sometimes I add a little more lemon juice, salt or other seasoning to taste.
It will keep refrigerated for several days, but probably won’t stay uneaten that long.
* information on hummus as a love potion comes from “Delights from the Garden of Eden: A Cookbook and History of Iraqi Cuisine” by Nawal Nasrallah
Here’s a New York Times story about the spread of hummus among us.
And if you want to watch something while you nibble on your fresh-made snack, here’s West Bank Story, the Oscar winning musical of hummus, love and peace.