Hummus, the world-famous Levantine dip that has been steadily increasing in popularity in the U.S., has been a common part of the diet in the Middle East for hundreds of years, with recipes varying in each household. When eaten with bread, hummus offers a complete protein along with healthy fats, plenty of fiber, and vitamins. One common legend gives credit to Saladin for inventing hummus, while historians generally agree that the modern dish resulted from a gradual evolution of the use of chickpeas stretching to antiquity, and not recorded in writing until about the 13th century e.v.
The following recipe makes about 10 cups of hummus. You'll want to adjust the recipe if your processor has a lower capacity.
- 3 cups chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 8-12 large cloves of garlic
- ½ cup tahini (unsalted)
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ¼ cup mint leaves
- ½ teaspoon sumak powder
- fresh ground black pepper
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garbanzo beans or chickpeas
boiling the garbanzos
boiled and drained garbanzos
red salt from Hawaii
garlic and red alaea salt
powdered sumak berry
powdered sumac berry
hummus b'il tahina
with pine nuts, fresh mint, and sumak
First, soak the garbanzo beans in water overnight (or about 8 hours), with enough water that the beans can expand (about 2" (5cm) over the beans). Remove any beans that float. If you are unsure on the amount of water to use, check it after a couple hours and add water if needed.
Drain the garbanzos, then put them back in enough water to cover them by 2 inches (5cm) and boil. Remove any foam with a skimmer or slotted spoon, and continue boiling partially covered for 3 hours. Every half hour or so, check the water level and add more boiling water as needed to keep the beans covered.
Once tender, drain the beans and save out 1½ cups of the cooking water. At this point, to make the hummus extra smooth, you could remove the hulls from the boiled beans after cooling them with a cold rinse. I skip this step and make up for it with much longer processing time. Place the beans, 1 cup of the cooking water, and ½ cup of olive oil in the processor and start it running on high speed. If you want to add more nutritional value to your hummus, replace some of the olive oil with grapeseed oil (I used a tablespoon with good results). Leave the food processor running while peeling and mashing the garlic.
Mash the peeled garlic cloves and salt together in a mortar and pestle until they make a smooth paste. This step makes a big difference in the flavor, as the salt draws out the essence of the garlic. I also like to use sea salt or high mineral-content salt to give it that much more of an old-world flavor.
In a small bowl, slowly stir together the lemon juice and tahini until they form a light paste. Add in the mashed garlic & salt, and mix together. Add this mixture to the food processor. Keep it running as you add fresh ground black pepper to taste.
If it is too thick, add some of the remaining cooking water. It should be smooth and pourable like pancake batter.
To serve, sautée the pine nuts in olive oil until brown, and finely chop fresh mint leaves. Pour the hummus out on a platter and use a spoon to form a crater, spiral, star, or other shape like a moat in the hummus. Sprinkle the browned pine nuts, mint, and sumak powder all over it and then pour olive oil to fill the "moat". Finally, add a couple of whole mint leaves as a garnish.
A side note on sumak: this is a crimson-colored powder often confused with paprika but with a very different flavor. It is a lemony berry that is dried and powdered, and compliments the lemon in hummus. It can be somewhat more difficult to find but should be stocked at middle eastern groceries. In Portland, it is available at Barbur World Foods and at Taste of Europe.
Serve with quartered pita bread or tortilla chips.