Meatless Monday – Hummus 101

By Meg Claire

Like any self-respecting Arab woman, I refuse to purchase mass-marketed hummus.  No brand could possibly compare to homemade, and the attempts are alternately sour or bland.  Not surprising when you realize it’s just a marketing job:  forcing “Mediterranean” flavor profiles on something so perfectly simple to start with.  My Syrian grandmother never fed me “Roasted Red Pepper” hummus for good reason.

If you’re in the tri-state area and you’re searching for great Middle Eastern food, look no further than Fattal’s Syrian Bakery in Paterson, NJ.  I’ve been going here for Syrian bread since I was a kid and the sights and smells bring me back every time.  For cheap and hard-to-find Middle Eastern ingredients (za’atar, anyone?), Fattal’s is worth the trip.  In fact, the jar of tahini pictured above will probably keep me in hummus for about 6 months and cost only $6.

My hummus recipe couldn’t be simpler—I keep it in my head.   Ideally, you’d start with dried chickpeas and slow cook them, but use canned if you want to whip this up fast.  Miso is obviously a non-traditional ingredient here.  It’s smooth, mellow flavor will keep guests guessing what that wonderful flavor is…


Serves 4 as an appetizer

1 15oz. can organic chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved

1 small clove garlic, smashed

1 TLB tahini

Half lemon, juiced

¼ TSP ground cumin

¼ TSP paprika

1 TSP white miso paste (optional, but if you exclude it, up the tahini by 1 additional TBL)

¼ TSP kosher or sea salt

Good olive oil

Toss the chickpeas and garlic into a food processor.  Process just until it forms a chunky paste.  Add the rest of the ingredients, through salt.  Process, and while the blade is going, drizzle in about a tablespoon of olive oil.  If it doesn’t seem creamy enough, add a tablespoon or two (or three) of the canned chickpea liquid and process until incorporated.  Spoon into a shallow serving bowl and smooth over the top with a spoon or spatula.  Draw the tines of a fork across the surface and then turn and do the same, creating a criss-cross pattern.  Drizzle a little of your best olive oil on top.  Serve with warm Middle Eastern bread—it’s even delicious on whole wheat toast!

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  1. I feel like a hypocrite every time I buy hummus at the store.  You are right.  It is so easy to make.  But how come every time I make it, it never comes out smooth like at the store?  Is that because it is mass produced and too goo to be true in my own kitchen??? 

    Is yours a smooth delight?  If yes, I'll give it a whirl this week!

  2. @Carolyn I agree–smooth and creaminess is key.  Mine stays that way because of 3 things: 1) you blend in some of the reserved chickpea liquid, 2) you also blend in a little oil, and 3) you drizzle oil over the top when serving. Couldn't be creamier. Enjoy!

  3. Hummus is a staple in my kitchen, and I've been making my own for decades but it never tastes as good as what I ate in Egypt.  Thanks for an authentic recipe! I will definitely make it soon.

  4. @Fran Hummus is a great kitchen staple since it stands in for so many things – even mayo.  I remember very little about my childhood trip to Egypt, but I do have a visual memory of the markets, tea cafes, shouting, smells, hustle and bustle.  Glad the flavor of authentic hummus is still a vivid recall for you!  Enjoy.

  5. yay! i never thought of adding miso to hummus paste!! thats really creative.. im syrian too and i think that the syrian/lebanese food is the BEST food in the world! yum. but then there's also indian food.. that's also the best food in the world. lol.

    i also make cauliflower paste the same way: instead of using chickpeas i use cauliflower.. i always love to add extra garlic too. and then some parsley on top for garnish..  it really tastes good. i also tried using zucchini instead of chickpeas, it worked well too.. and i havent tried it with broccolli yet but i think it will taste yummy..

  6. @ Meg… I think my problem is that i cut recipe corners to lessen fat and calories.  And that results in clumpy homemade hummus.  Nothing like sticking your chip in dish and it breaks in half.  LOL.

    I'll try your tips and this recipe and see how I do. 

  7. @Carolyn I also cut corners to use less fat in recipes. This recipe helps you balance that by using the chickpea liquid to make it creamy – not clumpy. The oil you drizzle in while blending gives it a little richness, and then the oil on top is for flavor. Still better than the 1/4 of oil many hummus recipes call for. Enoy!

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