The Food of Jerusalem - Part 2: Basic Hummus

Best Homemade Hummus

In the past, I've always made hummus from canned chickpeas. Toss in a food processor with tahini (or peanut butter, not as good, but still yummy,) lemon juice, garlic, parsley and called it quits. What I usually make is tasty enough, but nowhere near as smooth and unctuous as the ones I've eaten at good restaurants.

This recipe (Jerusalem: A Cookbook, pg. 114) relies on soaking the chickpeas overnight in cool water, then cooking them the next day. I decided to guild the lily even further by making my own tahini paste and comparing it to store-bought. Making your own isn't even complicated. You start by toasting your sesame seeds about 10 minutes in the oven then tossing it in a blender and pureeing with a neutral oil. I used 2 cups of seeds and 1/4 cup of grapeseed oil. It took a little more than 5 minutes in the blender to turn into a smooth and barely runny paste.

The contenders...

Homemade tahini, ready to go.


While the store bought tahini is nice, and what I usually use, I found it to be sweeter, more toasted in flavor, and not as clean as the homemade. Store-bought works, but in my opinion, homemade is better. So I stuck with homemade for the recipes.

Now, when it comes to the chickpeas/garbanzo beans. You start by covering them with water and letting them soak overnight. Make sure you use a lot of water because the chickpeas will plump considerably from the soak.

Dried chickpea, before and after soak.

The next day, you drain the chickpeas, toss them in a pot with a tsp of baking soda and cook them on high for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Then you add fresh water, bring to a boil, and cook the chickpeas until they are tender, almost, but not yet, mushy. It only took 30 minutes for mine to be ready. You will want to skim the boiling water, a lot of the chickpeas will shed their skins  and there is some foaminess. Once the chickpeas are soft, drain them then toss them in a food processor.

You'll process these first, getting them to a thick paste, then with the machine running, you'll add your tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and ice water, then keep the machine running until it is perfectly smooth.

From here you'll put it in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let the flavors come together. I popped it in the fridge until dinnertime. It's best served room temperature, so about 30 minutes before you want to serve, pull it out of the fridge, garnish as you'd like (there are several options in Jerusalem: A Cookbook, many of which I'll be trying, but tonight I stuck with sweet paprika and extra virgin olive oil), and let it get to room temperature before eating.

The result is quite literally the best hummus I have ever eaten, hands down. So smooth, creamy, unctuous, and rich without being heavy. The flavors are subtle and the texture can't be beat. I don't know if I can ever go back to store-bought hummus, or even hummus made from canned chickpeas. While the time for soaking does require some forethought, it really isn't hard work making hummus entirely by scratch, and boy is it worth it.

Jerusalem: A Cookbook might be worth it's purchase price for the hummus recipe alone. It was the first recipe I completed and it blew me away.

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