Here we are again, discussing a traditional Lebanese food that is becoming very popular in the West. I have blogged about the Lebanese mezze / mezza quite a few times in the past (tabbouleh, ftayer bi sbanekh, baba ghannouj, and kibbeh). As Lebanese cuisine becomes more and more popular in the United States, more and more people are finding out about what constitutes a traditional mezze spread. There are so many Lebanese restaurants popping up all over Dallas. This is very exciting to me! However, the only area of concern is do these restaurants cater to the masses, or do they remain true to the traditional cuisine of Lebanon? I have to say that for the most part, most cater to the masses … to my slight disappointment. Hommos is one of those foods that people seem to make into many variations. Interesting as that may be, there is nothing quite like the traditional and original version. Authentic and traditional Lebanese hommos does not vary from the following ingredients: garbanzo beans, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and extra virgin olive oil. For to us, traditional hommos is king of the Lebanese mezze.
TRADITIONAL LEBANESE HOMMOS (or HUMMUS)
1 cup dried Garbanzo Beans (or 3 cups canned)
2 cloves Garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
2 large Lemons (about 8 tablespoons)
1/4 cup Tahini (Sesame paste)
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil – plus more for garnish
2-4 tablespoons cooking liquid (optional)
1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian Parsley – for garnish
1/2 teaspoon Paprika – for garnish
Begin the night before by soaking the dried garbanzo beans in cold water overnight. The next day, place the rehydrated beans with 6 – 8 cups of cold water in a large pot, and cook them until the beans are soft. Drain the beans, reserving some of the cooking liquid, in case you need to thin out the hommos later. If you are using canned garbanzo beans, make sure to rinse them thoroughly in cold water, and drain them.
Place the beans in a food processor, along with the salt. Grate the garlic with a microplane, or mash it with a mortar and pestle, then add it to the beans. Run the food processor to roughly chop the beans. Add the tahini and lemon juice to the chopped beans, then run the food processor again. While it is still running, drizzle the extra virgin olive oil, until everything is thoroughly combined. If the hommos is too thick to your liking, add a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid and process, until you reach the desired consistency.
Choosing the right Tahini is crucial to the flavor of your hommos. Most tahini brands have a little bitterness to them, which I do not like. If the one you have tastes good to you, then use it. If not, see if you can find a good tahini without any bitterness to it. I always use a Lebanese brand, Tarazi, that I buy from my local Middle Eastern store. I love it!
Now that you made the hommos, place it in a covered container and in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. This will allow the flavors in the hommos to marry, and will make it easier to plate. Once you are ready to plate, remove the hommos from the refrigerator, and place it in a bowl or a shallow plate. Garnish with some paprika, finely chopped Italian parsley, and a little extra virgin olive oil. Serve with Lebanese pita bread as part of a mezze, an appetizer, or a side dish to a lovely meal.