Hummus - Limor Laniado Tiroche - April 25, 2012
Msabaha with roast eggplant; ceramic dishes: Irit Goldberg, Old Jaffa. Photo by Limor Laniado Tiroche
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Hummus is considered one of the pillars of our national cuisine − and for good reason. Chickpeas are among the oldest crops in the land of Israel and among the earliest foods of our ancestors; in ancient Hebrew texts, chickpeas are called hamitz or himtza. In the modern era hummus was initially and primarily consumed here as a breakfast food for field hands. A serving of the warm and nutritious hummus, wiped up with torn bits of pita, supplied the menial workers with the energy crucial to their labor.

Hummus

Makes four or five servings
2 1/2 cups small chickpeas (500 grams‏) of the Bulgarian or Hadas variety
1 scant teaspoon baking soda or baking powder
6 heaping tablespoons raw tahini
6 tablespoons lemon juice
2 garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cumin
at least 3 1/2 cups hot water ‏(preferably the cooking water from the chickpeas‏)
For garnish:
olive oil
hot, whole cooked chickpeas
cumin
sweet paprika

Soak chickpeas for 24 hours in a bowl of water with baking soda or baking powder. Replace the water after 12 hours but don’t add new baking soda or powder. Drain and rinse thoroughly.

Transfer the chickpeas to a big pot; pour in water so that it reaches a level that is one and a half times the height of the chickpeas in the pot. Bring to a boil; skim off the foam that forms on the top. Lower the flame; cook on a very gentle boil for 3 hours. Confirm softness by crushing one chickpea between thumb and forefinger. Drain and reserve the cooking water.

Traditionally the chickpeas are crushed using a mortar and pestle, but you can also grind them in a food processor or an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Grind or mash together chickpeas, raw tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt and cumin. Add the chickpeas’ cooking water 1 cup at a time, while grinding, until you obtain the desired consistency.

If not eaten immediately, the hummus will thicken within a brief time. Before serving, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with cumin and sweet paprika.

Hummus with chicken livers and caramelized onions

Makes two servings
2 cups homemade hummus
3 tablespoons oil
2 large onions, sliced into thin semicircles
350 grams chicken livers, without tendons and connective tissue
salt, ground black pepper
2 hard-boiled eggs, grated
For garnish:
salt
cumin
olive oil
chopped parsley

Saute the onions in neutral-tasting oil until deep brown. Transfer to a plate. In the same frying pan, grill the livers until brown ‏(3 minutes on each side‏). Season generously with salt and pepper.

Turn off the heat. Spoon fresh hummus into a deep serving plate and top with the grilled chicken livers, fried onion and grated hard-boiled eggs. Season with salt and cumin, and add some olive oil and chopped parsley.

Msabaha

Makes four to six servings
2 cups cooked chickpeas, hot
2 cups hummus
1 cup raw tahini
1/2 cup tatbilah sauce ‏(see below‏)
warm water ‏(preferably the cooking water from the chickpeas‏), as needed
salt
For garnish:
olive oil
hot, whole cooked chickpeas
cumin
sweet paprika

Place whole chickpeas, hummus, raw tahini and tatbilah sauce in a big bowl. Mix carefully with a spoon and gradually add the cooking water from the chickpeas, until you attain the desired consistency. It is important to keep the chickpeas as whole as possible.

Transfer to a deep serving plate and generously drizzle olive oil over it; garnish with more hot chickpeas, cumin and paprika. Serve immediately with hot pita and raw onion.

Msabaha with roast eggplant

Makes four servings
2 eggplants
2 cups chickpeas, cooked and hot
2 cups hummus
1 cup raw tahini
1/2 cup tatbilah sauce
warm water ‏(preferably the cooking water from the chickpeas‏), as needed
salt
For garnish:
olive oil
hot cooked chickpeas
cumin
paprika

Heat your oven using the grill setting. Lay the eggplants in a roasting pan and roast on the top rack of the oven for 15 minutes on each side. Scoop out the eggplant pulp; transfer to a strainer to drain the liquids, for at least 30 minutes.
In a large bowl, put the whole chickpeas, hummus, raw tahini and tatbilah sauce. Mix with a spoon and add cooking water from the chickpeas until you get the desired consistency. It is important to keep the chickpeas as whole as possible. Add the roasted eggplant and mix.

Spoon into a deep serving plate, drizzle generously with olive oil and top with hot chickpeas, cumin and paprika. Serve immediately, with hot pita and raw onion.