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Hummus: Uniting Humans Across the Generations

Updated: Sep 20, 2022


Did you ever wonder why there has been turmoil in the middle east for almost all of eternity?


According to Global Affairs Explained, an internet site that uses original research and data to answer questions often not covered by traditional media, it could be anything from foreign intervention, authoritarian regimes, sectarianism, climate change or widespread poverty.


IMHO, it's not for control of the oil rich soil. It's not religion. It's about hummus.


Yes, hummus.


Don't believe me?

Just watch West Bank Story.


This 2006 Academy Award Winner for Best Live Action Short Film was directed by Ari Sandel and most definitely solidified my humble opinion from above that it's all about hummus.


And it could possibly be the muse and catalyst for Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm "spite store"*


Think West Side Story meets the Middle East.


West Bank Story short film is a parody of the classic 1961 musical film West Side Story, which in turn is an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. The film follows the rivalry between falafel restaurants, one Israeli and the other Palestinian, respectively named the "Kosher King" and the "Hummus Hut," and the romance between the latter's cashier and an Israeli soldier in the West Bank.


It's cute and worth the 21 minutes. Don't believe me, just watch. 😉

I mean, it did when an Academy Award 🤷🏼‍♀️


But in all seriousness, there is much to say about hummus.


Where did it originate?

Who made it first?



Hummus is a Middle Eastern dip, spread, or savory dish made from cooked, mashed chickpeas blended with tahini (sesame paste), lemon juice, and garlic. The standard garnish in the Middle East includes olive oil, a few whole chickpeas, parsley, and paprika.


I had the privilege of meeting a woman, Nora, from Jordan who graciously gave me her family's recipe. Maybe you're thinking, why in the hell would she give away her family recipe? Yeah, I thought the same thing. I say hold onto that recipe for your own and let people eat bad, store-bought hummus. Keep your secrets secret, right?


No-- wrong... we're growing here people.


So, let's play devil's advocate here.

1. Nora declines my request for the recipe. The story ends here. I'd be writing about apple crisp or a savory fall dish. Only Nora and her family know about this delicious, inexpensive and healthy dish. And when the last of that family leaves their earthly body, so does the hummus recipe.


But,


2. Let's say Nora does what she does and gives me the recipe. Every time I make it, I think about her and her family. And exactly how old this recipe could possibly be. And how many people has this recipe fed. Think about how many years it's been being made, and the fact that it started in Jordan and landed here in Moon Township. and it's fed my kids and family at lunch time, snack, and many parties.


This is why we share recipes.


Nora's Jordanian hummus recipe has been made many times by me and others and will continue to be made and hopefully passed down from me to you and so on and so forth.


There are many adaptations of hummus depending on where the recipe is from.


According to New York City restaurant Nerai

the word hummus, (which has various spellings) comes from the Arabic word meaning “chickpea.”



The history behind hummus, is an on-going debate. Hummus is a part of Egyptian, Greek, Israeli, Turkish, Lebanese, Jordanian, Palestinian, and Syrian cuisine. Thus, many countries claim ownership over the dish. In folklore tales, hummus is described as one of the oldest known prepared foods.


While the origin of hummus is unclear, the one element that remains clear in the main ingredient. Chickpeas have been cultivated throughout the Middle East and India for thousands of years. The chickpea was one of the earliest crops in Mesopotamia and consumed in ancient Palestine as well as ancient Rome. While countless regions around the world claim to be the place where hummus originated, the fact is that because hummus has been around for so long, the exact origin has been lost in antiquity. Based on historical information, hummus likely originated from ancient Egypt in the 13th century, but that doesn’t stop other regions from continuing to claim hummus as their own. Moreover, Ancient Greece and Egypt were trade partners for centuries which may explain why many foods in Greek and Arab cuisine are so similar. Many foods crossed over especially during the Ottoman Empire.


Imagine this recipe below could in all reality be thousands of years old.


Yeah, Nora did the right thing. And I'm essentially being the spice trade route in North America sharing her recipe with you.


*Spite Store

In Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David opens a coffee shop "Latte Larry's" in spite, right next to Mocha Joe's because he was kicked out of Joe's for offering suggestions. Ironically enough, Larry's spite store and his competition's burned down due to Larry's OCD with germs and a coffee warming mug.



Cooking Class with Carol


Things to Consider


Beans

What's in a name?

You'll find them by many names

Chickpeas

Garbanzo beans

Cici beans

But they all mean the same thing. The most important thing to "authentic" hummus is to get them as dry beans.


You could use canned beans, but you won't have to cook them, and they will not break down and emulsify as nicely as the dried, soaked and then cooked version.


Their nutritional value is a great choice for vegans and vegetarians as not only a source of protein but of carbohydrates, high fiber, vitamin B6, folate, and vitamin C.


I've never tried another variety of bean, but I'm guessing you could experiment with other types (kidney, cannellini, navy beans) and it would be very good as well. If you do try other types, hashtag me on your social media post #carolofmoon I'll be very interested in your creation.


Soaking dried beans

Buying dry beans will save you a lot of money. You can make 3-4 times the amount you can make with canned beans for the same price.


To soak beans the traditional way, cover them with water by 2 inches, add 2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt (or 1 tablespoon fine salt) per pound of beans, and let them soak for at least 4 hours or up to 12 hours. Drain them after the initial soaking time and start the process over with fresh water, rinse well before using.


If your beans are left soaking for too long, they begin to ferment.


This starts happening around 48 hours at room temperature. If you soak your beans in the refrigerator, it will take three or four days before fermentation begins.


Baking soda

Baking soda is added to the cooking water and beans.


Chickpeas have a hard shell that needs to be completely broken down to achieve the creamy end result that hummus dreams are made of. A common issue is that when the beans are soaked in water the environment is too acidic for their cellulose-based cells. Baking soda, a leavener, swoops in to save the day by raising the pH levels of the water, making the chickpeas more soluble and thus able to cook more quickly.


It's like a science experiment gone bad if you leave the beans and NaHCO3 (sodium bicarbonate aka baking soda) to their own regard. Adding high heat to bring the beans to a boil may also bring the foamy "sledge" which could spill over the pot. Watch it carefully until it comes to a boil. Then you can turn down the heat and allow them to cook accordingly.


Garlic

Fresh garlic is the key to any delicious recipe. Don't skimp on it here by adding garlic powder. Definitely try not to use garlic salt. The ratio between garlic and salt would make this dish way too salty. (I have a slightly heavy hand when it comes to salt, so I know firsthand that the garlic salt usage is even too salty for me.


Tahini

Tahini is a ground or pureed mixture of hulled sesame seeds with olive oil and is often described as peanut butter in terms of how it looks. Tahini has an earthy, savory taste; toasting the seeds before grinding them brings out more of their natural nuttiness and reduces some of their bitterness. It is used in the cuisines of the Levant and Eastern Mediterranean, the South Caucasus, as well as parts of North Africa. Sesame paste (though not called tahini) is also used in some East Asian cuisines.


You will find it in your grocery stores "international" aisle although I've seen it finally being recognized in the store by being in the same aisle as oils.


It is essential to the flavor profile of hummus. It's creaminess and flavor lend to the consistency and nuttiness of hummus. I wouldn't recommend making hummus without it.


Olive Oil

You know where I stand on olive oil. First press Extra Virgin Olive Oil is my go-to. It doesn't have to be fancy, it just had to be good. Don't skimp on the quality. Could you swap out EVOO for regular vegetable oil? I guess you could but don't tell anyone I told you to (wink wink)


Historically EVOO would be used. Without doing my due diligence and researching the hypothesis (yes, my name is Carol, and I am a nerd) there weren't fields of corn and soybean to make your standard vegetable oils, so the only logical oil the people of Mesopotamia would have used is olive oil.


Spices

Usually spices like cumin and coriander, cayenne pepper and paprika are common spices used to elevate traditional hummus. Adjust the spices to your liking. There is no right or wrong. Just different.



Ingredients


  • 1 cup dried chickpea (the smallest beans you can find)

  • 1/2 cup tahini

  • juice from 1 squeezed lemon

  • 1-2 garlic cloves

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

  • 1 tablespoon + 1/8-1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • salt

  • olive oil

  • parsley

 

Preparation

1. Pour the chickpeas over a large plate or tray. Go over them and look for damaged grains, small stones, or any other thing you would rather leave out of the plate.

2. Wash the chickpeas several times, until the water is transparent. Soak them in clean water over night with 1 tablespoon of baking soda. Then, wash it, and soak again in tap water for a few more hours. The grains should absorb most of the water and almost double their volume.

3. Wash the chickpeas well and put them in a large pot. Cover with water, add the rest baking soda and NO salt. Cook until the grains are very easily smashed when pressed between two fingers. It should take around 1-1.5 hours, during which it is advised to switch the water once again and remove the peels and foam which float over the cooking water. When done, sieve the grains and keep the cooking water.

4. Put the chickpeas into a food processor and grind well. Leave it to chill a little while before you continue.


5. Add the tahini and the rest of the ingredients and go on with the food processor until you get the desired texture. If the Humus is too thick, add some of the cooking water. It should be thinner than the actual desired texture.


Serve with some good olive oil and chopped parsley.









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