Most of us have had hummus at a party with all of the finger foods and easy tummy-fillers. We've dipped carrot spears or even tortilla chips into tepid and tasteless hummus. We've told ourselves that we like it, but there's always a bit of doubt. And that's because we've never had Smooth & Creamy Hummus like our oldest child had during her travels in Jerusalem. If we had had THAT hummus, our understanding of it would be forever changed.
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Our oldest traveled to Greece and Israel when she was just 19 and she came home not only with fast friends, but also with tales of all the wonderful food sampled. Not the least of which was hummus eaten in Jerusalem. She came back with all of the praise ... its taste and texture. She said, "Mom! It's just different! And so much better!"
Ever since her trip, we've been on a mission to find something similar to what she tasted in a region of the world where hummus is a common, daily, freshly prepared food, not an adopted one that we settle for in prepackaged containers.
I haven't researched too much about Israeli food, but I knew I had come to a point where I needed to dig deeper to find a recipe for the best hummus ever. I tested several recipes and while they were good, my daughter kept saying that something wasn't right. After testing and tasting for the last ten years, I ended up with Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's book Jerusalem? That had to be the best place for answers, right? (This recipe has also be been published on Food 52.)
Canned chickpeas or dried?
Well, if you've been around here any length of time, you know that I'm going to push you toward dried beans! Truly, the texture can be so much more controlled and soaking them overnight is so much better for your gut health. For an authentic Smooth & Creamy Hummus, you simply must use dried beans.
You just need to cook them 20-30 minutes. Just till they squish easily between your fingers ... or since they are hotter than Hades, you can squish them under a spoon on the cutting board. You want them to be soft, but not mushy.
After straining them, put them in a food processor and process them into a rough paste. They won't be absolutely smooth, but will be well on their way.
Every other hummus recipe I've tried has called for copious amounts of olive oil, a small amount of sesame paste (tahini), lemon juice, and varying amounts of garlic.
My previous test results and takeaways
- I've tried recipes with lots of olive oil and they resulted in a messy, oily hummus that didn't stay on the veggies or pita. And was frankly disgusting.
- Using a less amount of tahini lends less flavor and texture. You simply need a fair amount.
- A boatload of garlic is NOT needed. The garlic should enhance, not overpower.
- Lemon juice is SO needed to cut through the starchy character of the chickpea and the fattiness of the tahini.
The recipe for this Smooth & Creamy Hummus combines all of the necessary and traditional ingredients in such a beautiful balance of flavor. One last ingredient that makes a big difference is the simple addition of ice water. I believe that is what takes it so much closer to the creamy that we all love!
How to serve
One taste and my daughter declared it perfect. It was just as she remembered eating in Jerusalem herself! Serve it with vegetables and pita bread.
Other recipes you might like:
Smooth & Creamy Hummus
- 1¼ cups dried chickpeas 250 grams
- 1 teaspooon baking soda
- 6½ cups water, filtered or spring water preferred
- 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons light tahini paste
- 4 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 cloves garlic crushed
- 6½ Tablespoons ice cold water
- salt to season
- The night before making the hummus, put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover them with twice their volume of cold water. Cover the bowl and let them soak overnight.
- To make the hummus, drain the chickpeas and rinse them with fresh water. Put a medium pot over high heat and add the chickpeas and baking soda. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. The baking soda and the stirring helps loosen the skins of the chickpeas which means you don't have to peel them. Which I wouldn't do anyway!
- Add the 6½ cups of water and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam or skins that rise to the top. Turn the heat to medium and continue cooking until the chickpeas are tender, mashing easily between your fingers or under a spoon, but not too mushy. This can take 20-40 minutes depending on the type of chickpea and the freshness. Continue to skim the foam as necessary.
- Drain the chickpeas and put them in the bowl of a food processor. Process until you get a stiff paste.
- With the machine running, add the tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic, and salt (start with 1-2 teaspoons and add more as you taste).
- Slowly drizzle in the iced water and allow it to mix for about 5 minutes until the texture is very smooth and creamy.
- Transfer to a bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 30 minutes. Serve right away or refrigerate. Remove the hummus from the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.
- To serve, spread it on a plate or platter, drizzle it with a good olive oil, and sprinkle it with cumin, paprika, and/or red pepper flakes. Eat it with pita or bread, or an assortment of freshly cut vegetables, especially cucumbers and tomatoes.