Recipe for Hummus and Peace in the middle East, How to make and Enjoy Hummus
How it all started...
I spent my childhood in Zahle, a small red-roofed town set on the foothills of mount sannine, a prime location in the beqaa valley, its snowcapped mountains tower above in the winter, while the air is light, and dry during the summer months. Zahle styles itself as “The City of Wine and Poetry” for good reason, 50 poets and writers were born in Zahle this century alone and just as many excellent araks and wines are produced in this area. A little wine, relaxing atmosphere and a beautiful view can turn just about everyone into a poet.
It is considered the “hot spot” tourist destination due to the excellent weather during the summer months and its bardouni river restaurants, a tradition that started over a 100 years ago. The bardouni river flows from Mount Sannine and down through the middle of Zahle. Along the river are some of the best restaurants shaded by trees and grape vines, packed with visitors from all over the world and the Middle East seeking good times, excellent food and nice weather. The competition between the restaurants is fierce; each restaurant outdoes the next with attractions such as water fountains, traditionally dressed ladies baking fresh bread, and extremely dedicated service. These restaurants are not fast food by any means. Meeting for lunch is a four hour event that includes multiple courses that end with a full table of fresh fruits, desserts and hookah service. Any restaurant you pick, always starts your taste buds off with the traditional Lebanese appetizers, Kibeh, Tabouli, Baba Ghanouj, Hummus and we can’t forget a glass of Arak to get your poetry juices flowing.
Eating Hummus is a daily activity for Lebanese people, it is supposed to be an appetizer dish, but as a Lebanese, especially from Zahle, there’s always an excuse to use it for everything else. No matter what the main dish being served, guess what, there’s always a plate of Hummus on the table, it’s like salt and pepper, always ready to be added to something.
Growing up, I would watch my mother make it day after day and I learned the traditional recipe which has no measurements, you know why? Because if you’re from Zahle your recipe is the “ pinky finger taste test”, you add all the ingredients, you pull out your pinky, dip it, taste it and you’ll know what’s missing. This was quite frustrating when I was trying to learn to cook, anytime I would call my mother for a recipe, she would only give me the ingredients and no measurement. I decided to try it years back and guess what?, it’s like all people from Zahle are equipped with the “Good Hummus Compass”, you just know.
I’m not one to brag, and maybe everyone just wants to be nice, but I’ve been told I make some of the best Hummus, I decided to try and put together a recipe for everyone so they can try it. Guess you can call it “Spread the Joy of Hummus”.
1 clove of garlic
3 cans of organic chick peas
Salt to taste (about ½ tsp.)
Lemon to Taste (about ¾ cup, freshly squeezed)
Tahini to Taste (about ½ cup)
Cold Water (about ½ cup)
INSTRUCTIONS USING A FOOD PROCESSOR AND SOME ADDITIONAL STEPS I DO TO ENSURE AN EXCELLENT TASTING, SMOOTH AND SPREADABLE TEXTURE.
- Open the cans of chick peas and poor them along with their juice in a medium saucepan and bring it to a boil for about 2 minutes, poor them into a strainer to drain.
- Using a food processor, place 1 clove of garlic with a teaspoon of salt (turn the processor to grind about 30 seconds)
- Add the strained chick peas to the food processor and grind it together another 30 seconds. (Save some whole chick peas for decorations)
- Add the Tahini and fresh lemon juice (turn on the processor to grind together)
Now, more than likely it’s quite thick, this is where that little pinky comes in, you want to taste it at this point to see what is needed, the goal is to achieve a smooth Hummus without losing any flavor, Tahini thickens, while water and lemon juice will loosen the texture. If the taste is great, use water to loosen the texture, if you like the Hummus more on the sour side, use the lemon. You can always add more salt if needed. Keep the food processor running until you get a smooth spreadable texture.
Can't we all just get along?
During my research about Hummus, I was astonished to see the political issues this simple spread brought up. Lebanese, Syrians, Palestinians, Israelis and a lot more had much to say about this joyful spread. Strong comments were exchanged on blogs that turned this tasty appetizer into a political disaster, everyone was adamant that Hummus originated in their country, I was quite disappointed since I was sure it originated in my mother’s kitchen, on the hills of Zahle.
The passion behind every message left on the internet regarding the ownership of Hummus clearly proves that everyone loves it; in fact they love it so much they wanted to own it and own its existence. The Middle East countries have been in turmoil for so many years due to their differences, I might have discovered the one thing they share in common, the love of Hummus.
At the conclusion of all my research I decided that I have found the answer to Middle East peace process, Hummus. It’s good for your health, tasty and fun to share, all the politicians in the Middle East should meet over a plate of this delicious treat, I’m sure they’ll be smiling in no time. As a final answer to the question, who owns Hummus? I do, and so does everyone else that makes it. Enjoy!
If you’re in the Los Angeles, Glendale area and would like to get your taste buds used to the real taste of Hummus, you need to walk in to a small family owned restaurant called Skaff’s Lebanese Cuisine and ask for Marleane Skaf, the lead chef to make you a plate. This will give you a good idea of what Excellent Hummus should taste like, and might as well try some other traditional Lebanese dishes while you’re at it. Read my future hubs where I plan on sharing some of these other recipes.