This recipe comes from Zahav, the chef Michael Solomonov’s Israeli restaurant in Philadelphia and recipe book of the same name, which is known for its silky and wonderfully rich hummus. Other Israeli chefs, Yotam Ottolenghi included, use the same method so I am comforted that this he gold standard. Garlic and lemon play small roles here; the indisputable co-stars are the freshly cooked chickpeas and the nutty tahini. Be warned – if you substitute canned chickpeas, you will not get the same smooth texture. Makes approximately 2 cups.
1 cup dried chickpeas
2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1 1⁄2 cups Tehina Sauce (plus a bit more for the topping)*
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, more to taste
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin, more to taste
8 oz. jar of Le Bon Magot® Brinjal Caponata – purple aubergine with cumin & curry leaves
Chopped fresh parsley, cilantro and/or mint for serving
Basic Tehina Sauce*
1-2 heads of garlics
At least 1 1⁄2 cups of fresh lemon juice (from 6 lemons)
1 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
2 cups of tehina (our preference is for Soom tehina https://www.soomfoods.com/ but any good quality brand will do)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Place the chickpeas in a large bowl with 1 teaspoon of baking soda and cover completely with warm water (chickpeas will double in volume so add more water than you think you need so the chickpeas remain thoroughly soaked even after swelling). Soak the chickpeas for a minimum of 8 hours. When ready, drain and rinse under cold water.
In a medium pot, cover soaked chickpeas by at least 4 inches of water. Add the second teaspoon of baking soda and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface.
Reduce heat to medium and let cook at a vigorous simmer until chickpeas are quite soft, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Make sure they are mushy and falling apart; overcooked chickpeas are the secret to creamy hummus. Drain.
In a food processor, puree the drained chickpeas with 1 1⁄2 cups of tehina sauce, salt and cumin for several minutes, until it is smooth and creamy. Then, puree it some more; and, then some more!
Taste for seasonings, adding more salt, lemon juice and/or cumin as needed.
To serve, spread the hummus in a shallow bowl or even on a plate, dust with a hint of cumin, top with fresh herbs and the caponata.
Basic Tehina Sauce*
While chickpeas are cooking, make the tehina sauce.
In a blender, combine the lemon juice, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Let this coarse puree sit 10 minutes. Then, pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve over a large mixing bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much of the juice and tehina, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and the cumin, and blend until a thick paste forms. If needed, add 1/3 to 2/3 cup ice water or additional lemon juice (I like the sauce citrusy as it offsets the sweet creaminess of the chickpeas) while blender is running, a little at a time, until sauce is smooth. You’re looking for a perfectly smooth, creamy sauce.
Once you use the desired amount in the hummus, refrigerate the left over sauce.