The hummus of my dreams


sahadi’s recipe for hummus

Before the pandemic, I would travel to Brooklyn twice a week to work with the Cup of Jo team …

I didn’t have to go to the office. Joanna explained that I can do whatever I want – I could come a few days a week or, if it doesn’t work according to my schedule or my children schedule, I could work from home. But I almost always traveled by commuter train and subway 4 or 5 to get to the seat of the Judicial Court. I wanted camaraderie, inspiration and hummus.

Not any humus. Very specifically humus from Sahadi’s, the legendary Middle Eastern market on Atlantic Avenue, just a five-minute walk from the Cup of Jo office. My kids would send me reminders, “Don’t forget that hummus!” And I would fold the reusable bag into my work bag just to fill enough containers that will last us a week.

Twenty years ago, before I had children, I lived in the same neighborhood and was incredibly spoiled by its approach to Sahadi and the neighboring markets that make Atlantic Avenue a destination of specialties for the Middle East. My Brooklyn apartment fridge on the fourth floor was almost always stocked with stuffed grape leaves, a pie that was so warm and fresh that the bag it came in was a little wet from condensation, a bowl of baba ghanoush, spinach and lamb pies, and some of the most bold-tasting spices at affordable prices you can imagine. But the hummus from Sahadi remained to me. Creamy, silky, without a shred of pate, and with the perfect amount of lemon and salt set the bar high. When we moved to the suburbs, I remember saying to my wife, “I feel great in this house, I just don’t know what I’m going to do with the humus.”

Well, it’s been 18 months since I switched to the Cup of Jo, and although I’m still not sure how to replace part of the equation in personal friendship (I miss you, team!), I have some humus solution. As of this week, Sahadi’s fourth-generation owner, Christine Sahadi Whelan, has written a book called Tastes of the Sun: Sahadi’s guide to understanding, buying, and using Middle Eastern ingredients. The practical niece of the founder of Sahadi, a Lebanese immigrant, Christine wrote this book to introduce readers and customers to spices, spice blends and essential aromas that transform simple, everyday cooking — think sumac, urfa pepper, pomegranate molasses, canned lemon. Currently with dogs: Farro fruit salad, Deviled eggs with dukka, Chicken with zucchini and sumac, slow-roasted Harrissa salmon. And this bold, new for me takeover of their hummus, topped with Moroccan spices and canned lemon. I don’t know if my own work will ever taste as good as one imbued with Brooklyn magic, but if it ever needed to get close, that’s it.

Hummus with Moroccan spices and canned lemon
From Tastes of the Sun. by Christine Sahadi Whelan
He makes 2 cups

Christine says, “A few years ago, we decided to offer a hummus tasting at a street fair in our Brooklyn Heights neighborhood. We set up a station in front of the store with five new varieties we created especially for the event, asking passers-by to vote for their favorite. When the results were summed up, this cheeky mix won by a huge margin. It is now an integral part of the display case, as well as in the cafe menu. I guess they’ll find a permanent place in your snack and entertainment rotation. ”

2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained, reserved for liquid (see note)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon diced canned lemon zest, plus more for decoration, bought in the store or homemade
1/2 teaspoon ras el hanout, plus more for decorating
Extra virgin olive oil, for dipping

Put the chickpeas in a blender or food processor with 3 tablespoons of reserved liquid. Add garlic, tahini, lemon juice and salt and mix until smooth. Check consistency; if it is too thick, add more reserved liquid of chickpeas per teaspoon. Add canned lemon zest and ras el hanout and puree. Taste the spice and let it stand, covered, for about 30 minutes for the flavors to combine.

Serve topped with a little oil and topped with ground canned lemon zest and sprinkled with ras el hanout. Hummus can be stored in the refrigerator in a closed container for 4 or 5 days.

Note: If you prefer to cook chickpeas yourself, start with 3/4 cup of dried chickpeas. To speed up cooking, you can pre-soak them in water to cover 1 inch for 2 or 3 hours. For pre-soaked, boil water, reduce heat and simmer for about 25 minutes or until softened. To dry, add enough water to cover 1 inch, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour, until softened. When you drain them, save at least 1/4 cup of cooking liquid.

PS Test the taste of pasta sauce in a jar i what food geniuses eat for lunch.

(Photo by Kristin Dough.)

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