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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Hummus! Hummus! Hummus!


What is Hummus?


Hummus is Arabic! 


The word "hummus" means chickpeas in Arabic. That's pretty much tells you the origin of hummus! Yes, It's Middle Eastern! It's Arabic but it's not Greek, Turkish or Jewish!




Hummus has become one of the hot health foods of the past few years, and for good reason. Made from chickpeas and ground sesame seeds, plus olive oil (although most commercial brands use cheaper canola oil), hummus is packed with fiber, protein, and healthy fats. But a large pita can run you 165 calories, and just because it feels foreign doesn’t make it anything more than plain empty carbs. Ask for a side of veggie sticks along with your pita to keep calories to a minimum.


Hummus is a Levantine (nations of Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Palestine), Turkish and Egyptian food dip or spread made from cooked chickpeas blended with tahini, lemon juice, salt and garlic. Other common ingredients include cumin and olive oil. Yet other recipe variations call for jalapenos, red roasted pepper, chili peppers, spinach, artichoke hearts and others. However, people of the Middle East don't blend add anything else beside the basic ingredients when making the traditional hummus. We top hummus with olive oil and fresh chopped parsley. Other toppings include Sumac, paprika and pine nuts. 


We are not here to talk about the health benefits of consuming hummus on a regular basis but if you want to find out why, read Is Hummus Good For You? By clicking on title.


As Middle Easterners (Arabs), we love hummus and pita! But we don't eat it all the time and certainly not during lunch time. For us, Lunch is the most important meal of the day and therefore we go all out!  So we do stews, stuffed vegetables, rice and meat dishes, seafood (although we are not big on shellfish) and many other dishes- which all really depend on the region. People from the Gulf region (Persian or Arabian Gulf) eat mostly rice and meat dishes, stews and curries but if you head a little bit north to, let's say, Syria, Lebanon  and Palestine, you will find a wide variety of dishes especially stuffed vegetables, chicken, rice and fish dishes since those nations near the Mediterranean sea.




So hummus is rarely eaten during lunch. For quick snacks and fast food during lunch, we consume a ton of shawarma (meat and chicken), kabob and falafel sandwiches and may other dishes.  Hummus is usually reserved as a breakfast dish along with falafel, eggs, cheese and meat pies, and flat breads (manakeesh). And a Middle Eastern breakfast is not complete without mint, sage or cardamom tea!


Additionally, when eating hummus, we usually consume it plain or maybe topped with shredded meat and/or pine nuts and of course a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil accompanied with lots of hot pita. To us, hummus is not a dip! It is a serious food and hummus without pita bread just doesn't cut it. We don't dip cucumbers, carrots or celery (or god-forbid pretzels!) in hummus. 


And folks, please don't buy grocery store hummus (Sabra brand for example). That stuff is nasty! A true hummus lover won't be caught dead with that stuff. Make it at home (see recipe tips below) or get it from a Middle Eastern or Greek restaurant. Some people have never had the real hummus and only consume Sabra or whatever hummus is sold at stores and frankly that is a tragedy! Well, maybe that hummus is okay for dipping but certainly not for serious hummus eating.


Okay, is there such a thing as the best hummus? Nope! Taste is very subjective. It's the same thing with coffee. There is no such thing as the best coffee! So we make pretty good hummus and every now and then, we have customers who want more garlicky hummus or creamer or thicker or more flavorful. Personally, I like my hummus garlicky and spicy- hummus with an attitude!


There are a ton of recipes online but here are some tips for top notch hummus.

1. For best results, use dry garbanzo beans. Soak garbanzo beans over night and cook them until they're very, very tender usually about an hour and a half to two hours. Add a little bit of salt and baking soda. Watch the water because you might have to add more.


2. For creamier hummus, peel the chick peas  if you have the patience and or are making a small batch. We don't do this because we make a lot of hummus everyday.


3. Use fresh-squeezed lemon juice. Don't use bottled or canned lemon juice. Use fresh garlic. Don't use canned minced garlic and never never use garlic powder.


4. Use less garlic than desired. The flavor of garlic intensifies as hummus cools down or is refrigerated. Use warm chickpeas for creamier hummus.


5. Process tahini with garlic, salt and cold water until well blended. Add chickpeas and lemon juice until desired consistency is reached. You may add a little bit of olive oil if you wish.


6. If your hummus comes out too thick, add a little bit more liquid or lemon juice. If the hummus is too thin, add little bit more tahini. Remember, hummus thickens when refrigerated so make it a little bit thin.


7. There are no rules to making hummus. The above are recommendations and you can adjust ingredients however you like. Just make it often and you will wonder why you ever bought that stuff at the supermarkets.


One more thing I recommend to use a food processor. Blenders are good for smoothies but not for making hummus. Hummus tastes better when it sits for a day or so as the flavors get happy together!

Hummus keeps for few days in the refrigerator but do not freeze it. Some foods are not meant to be frozen and hummus is one of them.


By the way, we use premium tahini which is available for sale to our customers. Tahini is the only expensive item of the five basic ingredients. WinCo in McKinney sells it for $10 for a 1lb jar. Our tahini is only $6 per lb. Additionally, our tahini is well blended and will not separate.




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