Hummus for Garlic Lovers - An Authentic Middle Eastern Hummus Recipe
Spare the Garlic, Spoil the Hummus
Many years ago, in the 1970s, I was blessed with an Armenian friend, Guy, who loved to cook and to share his heritage with his American friends. These were the days of cocktail and dinner parties among footloose and fancy-free single friends. Whenever Guy was invited to a party, he never had to ask what to bring. All of us wanted his family's hummus, always.
The hummus that he made was fragrant, odorous with garlic, laced with olive oil, dusted with parsley, and served with steamed pita bread. More often than not, he would show up early to a party with the hummus ingredients and make his dish on the spot. He also brought his Foley food mill along, because that's the kitchen utensil he chose to use, instead of a blender or food processor, to break down the chickpeas. Grinding chickpeas in a Foley food mill was an effort he was happy to share with, or rather delegate to, friends (smart boy). We all took turns grinding the garbanzos while sipping wine and whiskey. Guy was the conductor, and he had a willing orchestra.
Through the years that followed, I made his hummus often, but I also tried many commercial hummus brands and other's hummus recipes, always looking for a quicker way to enjoy this delicious Middle Eastern treat. I learned that there's no substitute for the hummus recipe he gifted us in those years. That recipe came from his heritage, from his family, from a special place half the world away.
The only modernizing alterations I made to his recipe were to use a blender instead of the hand-cranked food mill and to create ingredients measurements. Like so many fine cooks, Guy simply used the "handful of this, pinch of that" method.
Warning This hummus recipe is not for the garlic-wary.
The Hummus Recipe
Makes approximately 3 cups
Two 15-ounce Cans of chickpeas or four cups of chickpeas that you've cooked from scratch (if you've cooked them from scratch, be sure to save about 3/4-cup of the liquid they were cooked in)
8-10 Cloves garlic (small to medium, finely diced to make about 1/4 cup)
1/2 Cup olive oil
1/2 Cup tahini
Juice of two lemons
1/2 Teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 Cup chopped fresh parsley
Additional black pepper for dusting
Additional olive oil for drizzling
Cayenne pepper (hot) or paprika (mild) for dusting with color and taste
Drain the canned chickpeas in a colander, reserving about 3/4-cup of the drained liquid.
In the blender: Add half the chickpeas and all the garlic, oil, tahini, lemon juice, and the 1/4-teaspoon of black pepper. Blend.
Add the second half of the chickpeas in stages, to keep the blending going.
Add the reserved chickpea liquid, if necessary, to make the creamy texture that appeals to you.
Pour the contents of the blender out into a large shallow bowl. You want lots of surface area for dusting with parsley and ground peppers and for drizzling with olive oil.
Just before serving, dust the quarter-cup of chopped fresh parsley over the hummus, add a drizzle of olive oil, and cap it all off with a light dusting of more freshly ground black pepper and cayenne pepper or paprika for color and taste. Beautiful!
Measure the tahini using the cup that held the olive oil; the tahini will come away cleanly.
Serve with warmed pita bread. Put two or three pita breads between damp paper towels and microwave for a minute or so. Remove from the microwave, dispose of the paper towels, and transfer the breads to a cutting board or plate and cut into pie-shaped pieces.
Serve with pita chips, or for something a bit different, corn chips.
Serve with sliced raw or blanched vegetables such as carrots, cucumber, celery, and zucchini. Serving this garlic lovers' hummus with vegetables is a winner for anyone who's watching their calorie intake.
Use as a sandwich spread in place of mayonnaise. One of my favorite "hummus" sandwiches includes grilled vegetables topped with fresh alfalfa sprouts. You may want to try lemon-grilled vegetables as well.