Hummus... Abu Hassan Style

by - 12:21 PM

Any visitor to Tel Aviv is pretty much told no matter what they do - there is one thing that they have to eat... hummus. And not just any hummus, Abu Hassan hummus. 

It will change your life, they said. 

From everything we could glean about this humble hummus hut in the Old Jaffa city, we knew that its cult like following praised this dish for its elegance in simplicity. There really isn't a menu (or if there is one, we have no idea what's on it) but after a death defying journey to try it {Bird scooters are pretty brutal, especially when you hit a pothole in the middle of the road and go flying off it} we settled into our communal table, ordered "2" and the waiter said he'd fill in the rest. 

Hummus from Abu Hassan - Jaffa
Hummus from Abu Hassan in Jaffa, Tel Aviv

First he threw down a plate of raw quartered white onions, a pile of pita, and then he brought out two large bowls with delicately swooped hummus topped with all sorts of savory goodies. One bowl was warm and creamy with huge chunks of chickpeas and incredibly flavorful olive oil topped in piles of seasoning. The other was more traditional in preparation with a splash of paprika, a handful of parsley, and a dollop of a spicy almost bean salsa like sauce on top. Mystified by the random plate of onions, the rest of the meal made sense. But we wanted to eat like the locals so we stopped to watch our neighbors who gleefully scooped up mounds of hummus with raw onions and ate it just like that. 

To people who dislike onions. I would not recommend this. To everyone else in the world? SO MUCH YASSSSSSSSS. The crisp bite of the sweet onion mixed with the creamy spice of the hummus made so much sense that aside from the fact that our breath smelled like an onion train-wreck, we wondered aloud why this wasn't how hummus was always served? Sure the crudités platters that accompany many hummus bowls back home offer the same satisfying crunch, but the intense flavor of the onion tempered to a kitten's purr with the addition of hummus is such a uniquely delicious experience, we wanted to share it with the world! Or at least our friends at our next dinner party. 

After reading several recipes, talking to a few hummus aficionados, and researching the techniques behind creating this creamy delicacy - I learned a few very important takeaways... 

#1 - PEEL your chickpeas 
#2 - Don't throw away your chickpea water
#3 - Use a Fruity flavorful olive oil
#4 - Make sure your onions are... mild

While all of these steps are important... definitely pay mind to that last one. This really works with a sweet mild onion. Your guests will HATE you if you just throw any ole "crybaby" onion onto the table. We learned that the hard way. 

With all that said - once you learn how easy it is to whip up your own amazing homemade hummus, you may never buy the pre-made store stuff again. Fair warning!

Abu Hassan Style Hummus
From Nicole Iizuka

Serves: 3-4 || Total Time: 15-20 minutes

1 15oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp. baking soda
4 cloves garlic 
1 large lemon, juiced
2/3 cup tahini paste
4 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. red chili powder
1 tsp. salt
Olive oil, to taste
Paprika, to taste
Parsley, chopped
1 sweet white onion, quartered
4 pita, quartered

Reserve 8-10 chickpeas to use as garnish. 

Place drained and rinsed chickpeas in a small saucepan. Add baking soda and then cover with water.  Over medium high heat bring the liquid to a boil and cook for 6-8 minutes. This basically both softens the chickpeas and the baking soda helps release the skins from the chickpeas. 

Drain the beans but reserve 1 cup of the hot chickpea water. While the chickpeas are still warm, pop the skins off of each one and discard. This is a slightly time consuming process, but well worth it! Also you can shake the chickpeas a little vigorously and this helps remove the skins making it easier to separate. 

Into a food processor or blender add your garlic and lemon juice. Blend until smooth. Puréeing the garlic in the lemon juice helps break down the garlic and delivers a smoother flavor. Add the drained and peeled chickpeas and process for 2 minutes. Add the tahini, olive oil, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Process until completely combined. 

Then stream in the hot cooking water until you reach your desired creamy consistency. You want it to be thick enough to scoop, but thin enough to spread. You might use anywhere from 1/2 to 1 cup... this is totally up to you.  

Spoon the hummus into a shallow bowl, making sure to add lovely swoops. Drizzle with olive oil, top with reserved chickpeas, sprinkle with paprika and parsley, and serve warm with onions and pita. 

This will store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Warm up slightly before serving. 

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