Monday, March 14, 2011

Hummus - Just Deee-licious!

Pureed chickpeas may not sound very appetizing, but Hummus, the pretty famous Middle Eastern chickpeas spread, is just de-licious (especially my mom's)! 
Now we often take hummus for granted here in Lebanon, but it's actually a hot food trend abroad! Hummus has virtually taken over the “refrigerated flavored spreads” category, which enjoyed sales of more than $300 million in 2009, according to data from a Chicago-based market research firm.

Even though you can find pre-made hummus in supermarkets, it's just not the same. Now it's actually pretty easy to prepare so here's a the Lebanese quick version which I got verbatim from The Food Blog:
  • Soak chickpeas overnight with a spoon or two of sodium bicarbonate
    Courtesy of The "yummy" Food Blog
  • Boil the hell out of the chickpeas. (now this step will definitely cause your chickpeas to lose some nutrients during the boiling process, diffused in the water).You want to be able to turn it into mush by simply pressing on the grain between your index and thumb
  • Drain but keep the cooking liquid as you will need it, especially that it has some leaked chickpeas' vitamins!
  • Put in a food processor with no other liquid and blend.
  • If the food processor is not blending properly, add tiny amounts of cooking water, and I mean by the tablespoon just to get it going
  • Keep blending until very smooth. If you put too much liquid, it will not get smooth enough, and remain yucky and grainy
  • Add garlic, salt and lemon juice, blend again and adjust to taste.
  • Add tahini paste/sesame seed butter (a bit at a time), blend and taste.
  • Tahini will make the dip seize up, so add a bit of cooking liquid (or lemon juice if it needs it) to loosen it all up, but not too much. It should be be thick and creamy, not liquidy in any way. Have a look at how it holds its grooves in the picture above.
  • Adjust garlic, salt and lemon juice, plate up, make a sort of well in the middle and fill it with good olive oil! (I would say just put 2 tsps of olive oil when you put hummus in your plate because you are already taking your fat in this meal from the tahini)
Now for more chickpeas facts (which are also called garbanzo beans), they are one of the world's oldest cultivated foods, dating back to the Neolithic period in what is now Sicily, according to The Food Encyclopedia. During the Roman Empire, chickpeas were shipped in jars from Sicily to the rest of Italy. But the Middle Eastern region is thought to have created hummus hundreds of years ago by combining pureed chickpeas with lemon juice or vinegar, tahini (sesame seed butter), garlic, and olive oil. 

Most importantly, whether you're new to hummus or a longtime fan, like moi, here are the nutritional benefits which it offers you!

Chickpeas, the main ingredient in hummus, are rich in fiber and lean proteins to start with. They also offer you vitamins and mineral such as folic acid, calcium, zinc and magnesium!
Now beans in general have been linked to lower bloog cholesterol and lower risk of cancer because they are rich in enzymes and antioxidants (such as saponins, protease inhibitors and phytic acid)!
On another hand, tahini (sesame seed butter) is rich in mono-unsaturated fats (the fat that helps to increase the "good" cholesterol HDL) and has additional calcium, proteins and fiber.
And not to forget, last but not least, the vitamin C lemon juice offers you, the monounsaturated fat the olive oil contains and the rich anti-oxidant heart healthy garlic potential!

Balila, courtesy of The food Blog

So be creative and enjoy your hummus:- As a raw vegetable dip: put your hummus bowl in the center and surround it with a rich combination of stick veggies such as cucumbers, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, cauliflowers, etc.
- As a sandwich spread with mint, cucumbers, tomatoes, rockets and olives
- In sandwiches, instead of mayonnaise >> this way you'll cut down your fat intake

- Diluted in water, broth or even wine to make such a delicious dressing for cold pastas
- Mix in a food processor with spices or ketchup to get a different taste and red color or with mint to get green creamy texture
- You can add small bits of lean grilled meat + pine nuts on the top and have it as a main dish with
fattouch on the side (my personal favorite lunch!)
- You can even keep the chickpeas intact (no food processing) and make yourself a nice bowl of "Balila" mixed with garlic, lemon juice, oil and pine nuts!

Now food aside, I was inspired to write this "nutritional' post about hummus because of the Lebanese smart/sarcastic Hummus Nation Blog well, has nothing to do with food!

Sources: WebMD, The Food Blog and The Food Encyclopedia


  1. YUUUUUUUUUUUMMMY! yala 2 more hours for lunch!

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