Apparently Lebanon and Israel are sparring over who gets to claim hummus as a native dish (seems that people can find just about anything to fight about; can't we all just get along?). As Janna Gur, author of the stunningly beautiful new cookbook The Book of New Israeli Food, says: "Hummus and falafel are dishes based on recipes that change from village to village, sometimes from household to household. The beauty of the culinary world is in the way these dishes evolve, influencing the kitchens they arrive in or being themselves transformed." I have my own favorite recipes from the DL archives, including Lemony Hummus, Chipotle Hummus, and Black Olive Sweet Potato Hummus. And thanks to Ms. Gur for this simple version:
Basic Hummus Dip (serves 8-10)
1/2 kg (1 lb 2 oz) small dry chickpeas
1 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup raw top quality tahini
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt to taste
1. Soak the chickpeas overnight in a large bowl of cold water with one tablespoon of baking soda.
2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and put them in a large pan. Add water until it reaches 2-3 cm (1 inch) above the chickpeas. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and bring to a boil. Cook covered over low heat for 2-3 hours, until the chickpeas are very soft. Cool slightly, drain and save some of the cooking liquid.
3. Put the chickpeas in a food processor, add 2/3 cup of the tahini and process until almost smooth. If the paste is too thick, add a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Season with lemon, garlic and salt; taste and adjust the seasoning. For a richer creamier version, add the remaining tahini and process until the hummus is completely smooth and fluffy.