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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hummus with Tahini

I had no cause to make this hummus other than the fact that I simply wanted to. Unlike many of my other posts, hummus holds no special memories for me (except perhaps one recent incident). Although I love the tasty dish of pureed chickpeas and have often found myself scooping up the stuff at various Turkish, Lebanese, and Greek eating establishments, I have no recollection of where I was the first time I tried hummus nor any subsequent burst of inspiration from having experienced it (although I did go through a highly transformational felafel period somewhere around my sophomore year of college). Great Grammy Culpepper never used to make hummus when I was a boy, nor is anyone in my family Israeli. At all.

However, various pictures accompanying an article about Jerusalem and a few of its traditional recipes strewn about the pages of Saveur (November 2009, No. 124) looked fabulous and spurred me on to make my own Hummus with Tahini for the very first time. I soaked the dried chickpeas overnight with baking soda, pureed the tender result the next day with garlic, olive oil, fresh lemon juice and Achva tahini (crushed sesame seeds) that I went all the way across town to fetch from an Israeli market in the East Village near Tompkins Square Park. What an incredibly delicious nosh!

Hummus B'Tahina (Hummus with Tahini)
Makes 4 cups
5 oz. dried chickpeas
1 tsp. baking soda
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/4 cups plus 3 1/2 tbsp. tahini, preferably Achva brand
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt, to taste
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
1/8 tsp. sumac or paprika, for garnish
1 tsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Sliced pickles, for garnish
Pita, for serving

1. In a medium bowl, combine chickpeas with 6 cups cold water and stir in baking soda; cover and let soak overnight. Drain chickpeas, transfer to a 2-qt. saucepan, and cover with 6 cups fresh water. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until very tender, 40–50 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let cool slightly.
2. Drain chickpeas, reserving cooking liquid. To the bowl of a food processor, add chickpeas and 5 cloves garlic and process for 2 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid, along with 1 1/4 cups tahini, 1/2 cup lemon juice, and 2 tbsp. olive oil; season with salt. Process, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until the mixture is very smooth, about 8 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until flavors have melded, about 4 hours.
3. Bring hummus to room temperature. Finely chop the remaining clove of garlic and sprinkle with salt. Using the side of a knife, scrape the garlic against the work surface while chopping occasionally to make a paste; set aside. In a small bowl whisk together the remaining tahini, lemon juice, 3 1/2 tbsp. ice water, and the garlic paste until the mixture is creamy; season with salt and set aside.
4. To serve, place hummus in a bowl and make a small indentation in the middle using the back of a spoon. Pour the reserved tahini mixture into the indentation and garnish hummus with olive oil, sumac or paprika, parsley, and pickles. Serve with pita.

This article was first published in Saveur in Issue #124

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