When I met Brian’s family back in the 1980s, I had a bit of a culture shock. They had traveled and lived in different parts of the world including Turkey and the Middle East. Brian’s mom had learned to make Middle Eastern dishes like lamb shish kabobs, baba ganoush (eggplant dip), jajik (the ubiquitous yogurt/cucumber dish which goes by different names depending on the country in the middle east), and hummus served with pita bread.
No one I knew ate these dishes, let alone made them from scratch.
But make them she did and, trying to make a good impression on my new family, I ate them. I found I loved the shish kabobs and baba ganoush is still the only way I will eat eggplant, but jajik? That I stay far, far away from- as I do with anything that contains fresh cucumbers.
But hummus I actually learned to make, it was so good. I was not surprised that by the 1990s it became wildly popular and suddenly you could find it in delis and groceries and the recipe in newspapers.
However, since tahini (a sesame paste) was one of the key ingredients, I found we’d have hummus three times in one month and then not again for months. Why? Well, tahini was a specialty item, it was moderately expensive, and I didn’t use it for anything else. Since I wouldn’t buy it very often it was feast or famine- and usually famine since I was often out of tahini when I wanted to make hummus.
This went on for years, really, before I realized that sesame seeds could be ground just like nuts to make a “butter.” Duh. Sesame seeds are something I usually have on hand. And although the texture is not as smooth as some of the store-bought hummus (which I’m not sure that I like…), the flavor is great, so I like to call this a “rustic” hummus.
Begin by placing 1/2 cup sesame seeds in the bowl of a food processor. Pour in 1/4 c. olive oil.
Pulse until a chunky paste forms, adding a bit more olive oil if needed. Add a couple of garlic cloves at this point and pulse until evenly chopped.
Add garbanzo beans, salt, lemon juice, and honey, processing until the desired consistency is reached.
I like it to be a bit more smooth, so I usually find I need to add a bit more olive oil to get it to the stage I like. Taste for more salt, if needed (if using home-cooked beans especially). Scoop into a serving bowl, drizzle with more olive oil, sprinkle with a bit of paprika and serve with pita bread and vegetables for dipping.
This makes about 2-1/2 cups of hummus and if you don’t need all of it at one time, I’ve found that it freezes great. I just put it in a labeled container and freeze with a drizzle of olive oil on top. I’ve kept it for a couple months this way and after thawing it tasted just the same.
The ultimate test, though, came when I (hesitantly) served it to my in-laws, practically tripping over my words to prepare my mother-in-law for the fact that it wasn’t “real” hummus made with tahini.
Her verdict? “I think this is the best hummus I’ve ever had.”
High praise, indeed.
Hummus Made With Sesame Seeds
- 1/2 c. sesame seeds
- 1/4 c. olive oil, plus more as needed and for garnish
- 2 large cloves garlic
- 2 c. garbanzo beans (home cooked or canned)
- 1 t. salt
- 2 T. lemon juice (about 1 small lemon)
- 2 t. honey
- Place the sesame seeds and 1/4 cup olive oil in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until a chunky paste forms, adding a little more olive oil as needed. Add the garlic and pulse until evenly chopped.
- Add the remaining ingredients, except the paprika. Process until desired consistency, adding more olive oil as needed. Taste for seasoning.
- Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with paprika.
- Serve with pita bread and vegetables for dipping.
Makes about 2-1/2 cups.[/recipe]