HUMMUS - MEDITERRANEAN FOOD


HUMMUS

Chickpeas and sesame, the crops from which Hummus's main ingredients are taken, were known and cultivated in the ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern worlds. Hummus's principal ingredient, chickpeas, have been a human food item for over 10,000 years.  They were eaten by people in ancient Palestine before 4000 BC, were one of the earliest crops cultivated in Mesopotamia and were a common street dish in ancient Rome.

Archeological evidence identifies chickpeas in the Sumerian diet before 2500 BC. They are noted in a 13th century work by Muhammad bin Hasan al-Baghdadi of Persia for a "simple dish" of meat, pulses and spices.  It is unknown whether chickpeas were commonly mashed in any of these cultures. 

Tahini (sesame paste) likewise lacks any clear historical context. Sesame was grown as a crop in ancient Assyrian and Babylonian gardens and is mentioned by Columella. It was common in Roman and Persian kitchens in the form of sesame oil but not as the tahini paste of hummus-bi-tahini.


INGREDIANTS

  • 14 oz jar of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp Tahini (see above) 
  •  2 tbsp olive oil  
  •  3 garlic cloves, crushed   
  •  Juice of half a lemon 
  •  1/2 tsp salt   
  •  Water 
  •  Cup of olives diced
  •  Pinch of paprika

PROCESS

1. Blend the chickpeas and crushed garlic in a food processor until they form a very rough paste.
2. Add the Tahini, olive oil and lemon juice and blend again until the paste becomes
smooth. Add salt and blend for thirty seconds more.  Spoon the hummus dip into a bowl, garnish with the olive and paprika and serve with Pita or other flatbread.

INGREDIENTS SERVED WITH TZATZIKI

  •  8 oz. of Natural Greek Yogurt
  •  ½ a cucumber  
  •  1 clove garlic, crushed  
  •  1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  •  ¼ tsp dried mint  
  •  ¼ tsp dried dill  
  •  1 tsp olive oil  
  •  1 tsp white wine vinegar

PROCESS FOR TZATZIKI

1. Grate the cucumber, squeeze out excess juice and place in a bowl.
2. Add the yoghurt and garlic and mix thoroughly.
3. Mix in the mint, dill and white wine vinegar.
4. Drizzle the olive oil over the Tzatziki and mix in.

Spoon the Tzatziki dip into a bowl and serve with crusty bread, pita or flatbreads.


PAULA WOLFERT

Paula Wolfert’s name is synonymous with revealing the riches of authentic Mediterranean cooking, especially the cuisine of Morocco. This book is available and recommended on AMAZON.

In The Food of Morocco, she brings to bear more than forty years of experience of, love of, and original research on the traditional food of that country. 

The result is the definitive book on Moroccan cuisine, from tender Berber skillet bread to spiced Harira (the classic soup made with lentils and chickpeas), from chicken with tangy preserved lemon and olives to steamed sweet and savory breast of lamb stuffed with couscous and dates. 

The recipes are clear and inviting and infused with the author’s unparalleled knowledge of this delicious food. Essays illuminate the essential elements of Moroccan flavor and emphasize the accessibility of once hard-to-find ingredients such as saffron, argan oil, and Moroccan cumin seed.

As strange as it may seem, it was a day at Epcot in Orlando at Disney in the Moroccan Palace, I sampled several of the dishes that commercial enterprise put forth and got the bug.


THE FAMOUS HUMMUS RECIPE  Makes 4 cups

  • 1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3/4 cup sesame seed paste
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, and more to taste
  • Cayenne or hot Hungarian paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil


1. Rinse the soaked chickpeas well and drain them before putting them in a saucepan and covering them with plenty of fresh water. Bring to a boil; skim, add one-half teaspoon salt, cover and cook over medium heat, about 1 1/2 hours, until the chickpeas are very soft (you might need to add more water).

2. Meanwhile, crush the garlic and one-half teaspoon salt in a mortar until pureed. Transfer the puree to the work bowl of a food processor, add the sesame seed paste and lemon juice and process until white and contracted. Add one-half cup water and process until completely smooth.

3. Drain the chickpeas, reserving their cooking liquid. Add the chickpeas to the sesame paste mixture and process until well-blended. For a smoother texture, press the mixture through the fine blade of a food mill. Thin to desired consistency with reserved chickpea liquid. Adjust the seasoning with salt and lemon juice. The hummus can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.) Serve, sprinkled with paprika and parsley and drizzled with oil.

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