Buying hummus is easy when you have to go to a party and bring an app, but if you didn’t know, it’s just as easy to make it yourself. In fact, not only is it easy to make, but you get bonus points with anyone you’re trying to impress that you can make such a delicious, shareable dish.
Another thing you might not know is that in some places — such as Israel — hummus is typically served with spiced ground beef and eaten as a meal. We’re fans of this method — who hasn’t thought about just taking a bowl of hummus and simply using a spoon from time to time? And the addition of beef? No question about the deliciousness of what’s about to happen.
This hummus — Jerusalem hummus — is what we’re talking about here. By the end of this piece, you’re going to know how to make Jerusalem hummus so that the next time you need to go somewhere and bring a dish or you just want a bowl of the stuff for a hearty meal, you’ll be prepared.
To ensure you are prepared, we spoke with James Beard award-winning chef Michael Solomonov, who is the owner of Zahav in Philadelphia. In addition to the restaurant, Solomonov has also authored the award-winning cookbook, Zahav, which brings modern Israeli cuisine into the home, and the upcoming book Israeli Soul, which can be pre-ordered here.
Below, you can find Solomonov’s recipe for Jerusalem hummus.
Jerusalem Hummus typically refers to hummus that is garnished with hot, spiced ground beef, often with the addition of pine nuts. The appeal of this dish is obvious, with the hot beef fat exerting a “bad” influence on the normally wholesome hummus. To my knowledge, the name isn’t geographically precise, but eating a bowl of it on a winter’s night in Jerusalem is one of the best things ever.
Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally until it begins to soften, 5 to 8 minutes. Add 1 pound ground beef, 2 slivered garlic cloves, and 2 tablespoons pine nuts. Cook, stirring, until the beef is browned about 10 minutes. Add ½ teaspoon baharat (see below) and season with salt. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley. Serve over 1 recipe Hummus Tehina (recipe follows).
Baharat (the word is Arabic for spices) most commonly refers to a Middle Eastern spice blend of warm flavors that I think of as Turkish pumpkin pie spice. It has all the usual suspects, such as cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves, but with hints of cardamom, coriander, and cumin that lend an exotic quality. Baharat is available at good spice shops or Middle Eastern markets.
(Makes 3.5 cups)
By now, you will not be surprised to learn that the secret to great Israeli-style hummus is an obscene amount of tehina [aka tahini], as much as half of the recipe by weight, so it’s especially important to use the best quality you can find. Unlike Greek-style hummus, which is heavy on garlic and lemon, Israeli hummus is about the marriage of chickpeas and tehina. In fact, with the exception of a dash of cumin, there are no other ingredients. The only lemon and garlic involved have been used in my Basic Tehina Sauce. There are countless variations of hummus, but I’m not talking about black bean, white bean, or edamame hummus. Those might be perfectly nice dips, but since hummus is the Arabic word for chickpeas, that’s what we use. The variations are condiments spooned into the center of a bowl of pure hummus. My favorite, and by far the most popular, is a plate of tehina-rich hummus garnished with — you guessed it — more tehina.
Remember to leave time for dried chickpeas peas to soak overnight.
- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 5 cups Basic Tehina Sauce (recipe follows), plus a bit more for the optional topping
- 1 tsp salt
- .25 tsp ground cumin
- Paprika, for garnish
- Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- Olive oil, for drizzling
- Place the chickpeas in a large bowl with 1 teaspoon of the baking soda and cover with plenty of water. (The chickpeas will double in volume, so use more water than you think you need.) Soak the chickpeas overnight at room temperature. The next day, drain the chickpeas and rinse under cold water.
- Place the chickpeas in a large pot with the remaining 1 teaspoon baking soda and add enough cold water to cover by at least 4 inches. Bring the chickpeas to a boil over high heat, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface. Lower the heat to medium, cover the pot with a lid, and continue to simmer for about an hour, until the chickpeas are fully cooked and completely tender. Then simmer them a little more. (The secret to creamy hummus is overcooked chickpeas; don’t worry if they are mushy and falling apart a little.) Drain.
- Combine the chickpeas, tehina sauce, salt, and cumin in a food processor. Puree the hummus for several minutes until it is smooth and uber-creamy. Then puree it some more! To serve, spread the hummus in a shallow bowl, dust with paprika, top with parsley, more tehina sauce if you like, and drizzle generously with olive oil.
Basic Tehina Sauce
(Makes about 4 cups)
This simple sauce is one of my basic building blocks and is so versatile that once you master it, there are a million things you can do with it. The important step here is to allow the garlic and lemon juice to hang out for 10 minutes after blending but before adding the jarred tehina. This step helps stabilize the garlic and prevents it from fermenting and turning sour and aggressive, which is the problem with a lot of tehina sauces (and therefore the hummus made from them).
Because you’re making an emulsion (oil-based tehina incorporated into water and lemon juice), the tehina sauce can sometimes separate or seize up. Don’t panic! Keep a glass of ice water nearby and add a few tablespoons at a time to the lemon juice–tehina mixture while you’re whisking, until your creamy emulsion returns.
- 1 head garlic
- .75 cup lemon juice (from 3–5 lemons)
- 2 generous cups tehina
- .5 tsp ground cumin
- Break up the head of garlic with your hands, letting the unpeeled cloves fall into a blender. Add the lemon juice and .5 teaspoon of the salt. Blend on high for a few seconds until you have a coarse puree. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes to let the garlic mellow.
- Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large mixing bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids. Add the tehina to the strained lemon juice in the bowl, along with the cumin and 1 teaspoon of the salt.
- Whisk the mixture together until smooth (or use a food processor), adding ice water, a few tablespoons at a time, to thin it out. The sauce will lighten in color as you whisk. When the tehina seizes up or tightens, keep adding ice water, bit by bit (about 1.5 cups in total), whisking energetically until you have a perfectly smooth, creamy, thick sauce.
- Taste and add up to 1.5 teaspoons more salt and cumin if you like. If you’re not using the sauce immediately, whisk in a few extra tablespoons of ice water to loosen it before refrigerating. The tehina sauce will keep a week refrigerated, or it can be frozen for up to a month.
JERUSALEM HUMMUS is excerpted from ZAHAV © 2015 by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook. Photography © 2015 by Michael Persico. Used by permission of Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
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