I was first introduced to hummus bi tahini while working in Saudi Arabia. The cafeteria cooks on the Saudi Aramco compound made some really excellent hummus. The color was almost like alabaster and the texture was very smooth. The local pita was very thin, and we would take a torn piece between the thumb and index finger and pinch up the creamy hummus.
Party fare always included hummus, and I asked the other teachers how to make it. The answer was almost always the same: garbanzo beans, lemon juice, garlic, tahini. No amounts included. So I started experimenting and reading many different recipes for hummus, and after many experimental versions I finally hit the nail on the head. When I taste it I can close my eyes and imagine that I’m back in Saudi Arabia—it’s that close to the stuff I remember.
I’ve made hummus a regular part of our diet at home. As toddlers, my boys first tasted hummus on their morning toast. We like it with pita or as a spread inside a sandwich wrap. I usually buy the Trader Joe’s Apocryphal Pita for dipping.
This recipe is for a basic traditional hummus using canned garbanzos, but I also included a variation starting from dried garbanzos. If you like to experiment, try this recipe with roasted garlic or peppers, dill, sun-dried tomatoes, or chopped calamata olives. Have fun with it, and let me know if you find any variations that you really like.
[Updated August 31, 2009]
Hummus bi Tahini
- 1 ¾ cups cooked garbanzo beans drained and rinsed
- 1/3 cup sesame tahini (I’m partial to Ziyad Brand, but any Lebanese tahini will do.)
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- sea salt to taste
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (for garnish)
- chopped parsley for garnish
- paprika for garnish
- Press beans through the food mill to remove the skins. Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil as necessary to fully remove the skins.
- Pour the beans into the bowl of the food processor. Add tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. Process on low until thick and smooth, drizzling the olive oil in slowly. Adjust flavor with additional lemon juice as desired. Add salt to taste and finish processing.
- Spread into a shallow serving dish. Garnish with a swirl of olive oil, parsley, and a sprinkle of paprika.