January 3, 2007

Hummus and Baba Ghanoush

Happy new year everyone! I hope you all had a nice time surrounded by people you love during the holidays. : ) I don't normally make NY resolutions because I don't like succumbing to the pressures of making resolutions just at the beginning of a year. I prefer making resolutions throughout the year which, in my experience, results in a higher success rate. But I found myself at the brink of the new year with a lot of blogging to catch up on. There is still the last leg of my October trip I'd like to finish documenting. So i resolved to stop slacking and start posting more often!

So here I go, my first post for 2007. I decided to start with a food post, particularly food which I included in the feast my sister and I prepared for us to enjoy as we ushered in the new year.

After I graduated from university, I went on an extended vacation to the US and Canada. I had never had more than a 2 month vacation since I became a kindergartener at the age of 4, so I was really looking forward to this hiatus. Since I finished with a double degree, wasn't it only fair that I also got a double vacation? Of course! So I went away for 4 fabulous months! I stayed in the Bay Area for a little over a month, with side trips to LA & Lake Tahoe, before making my way north to Vancouver, BC where I visited my sister and her family for the remaining 3 months. Needless to say, these were some of the best months of my life and when began my little romance with this beautiful city.

My sister is a stay-at-home mom so we spent a great deal of time together. Much of this time was enjoyed in her kitchen as she prepared dinner for her family. I tried to watch and learn from her while I balanced her then 7 month old son on my hip or painted and colored with her 3 year old daughter on the breakfast table. Because I didn't write anything down, I forgot most of what I learned.

Except for these two dishes...hummus (creamy chickpea dip) and baba ghanoush (creamy eggplant dip). I don't remember if I tried them for the first time that time, but I vividly remember happily eating either one at least twice a week either as an appetizer or as a side, and even sometimes as our main meal and always with some pita bread.

I've only bought hummus once, from a supermarket in London. Blech. That was the last time I had store-bought hummus. No matter how lazy or tired you are or, what's that? You're a kitchen-virgin? Have no fear! Not only are these delicious and healthy, they're unbelievably easy to make. I make hummus quite often at home, sometimes eating little else for a week.

There are countless variations to hummus, in fact I probably don't make it the same each time. I just throw everything into the blender and add a little of this and a little of that to taste. Every country in the Middle East, Northern Africa and along the Mediterranean has their own version of this ancient dish as well.

I prefer to use roasted garlic instead of raw garlic because the taste is nuttier and sweeter. However, when I'm in a rush or making it at someone else's place, I just use raw garlic which makes it delicious nonetheless. And since I'm a garlic fiend, I put lots of it. So for starters, you can use this recipe and tweak it as you please. The kitchen is your playground, and this hummus is your ummm, oyster!

Basic Hummus

1 can garbanzos (chickpeas, canned or cooked - I buy Molinera)
2-3 tbsp. Tahini (sesame seed paste)
6 cloves of crushed garlic (preferably roasted)
juice of 1 lemon
4-5 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt or to taste
1/4 cup water (optional, if you like a smoother and more liquid consistency, though I usually just add more olive oil and lemon juice to achieve the consistency I want)
fresh parsley or olives

Mix everything (except parsley and paprika) in a blender. Pour in a bowl, drizzle with some olive oil then sprinkle with parika and garnish with either olives or parsley. This is best eaten scooped up with warmed pita bread but you may also spread them on melba toast, crackers or french bread. It is also excellent as a vegetable dip.

For some variety, I like to substitute the garbanzos with black beans or fava beans and adding some chili powder or cayenne for a little kick. This will produce a dip similar to ful medames or simply ful, one of Egypt's national dishes. You may also add peeled roasted red peppers or kalamata olives to the basic recipe for a more Mediterranean or Greek flavor.

To make Baba Ghanoush, use the same ingredients as the recipe for hummus above but substitute the garbanzos with 4-5 small (or 2 large) eggplants. What you do is, first pierce the skin of the eggplants and broil them until they're black on all sides. Place them under cold running water while you peel the skin off, then mash the flesh before combining it with all the other ingredients. Serve in a bowl drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, paprika and garnish with parsley or an olive.


Baking Soda said...

Hi Christine, a happy New Year to you too! And you hit the nail on the head with these two dishes. Some time ago a friend and I had a lebanese lunch and we swooned over the humus and baba ghanoush...
Thanks for the recipes (and for visiting!) See you!

joey said...

Thanks for sharing your hummus (and baba ghanoush) recipes! I love your hummus! I will try this soon :) I attempted some ful and will post about that soon :)

Santos said...

hi christine! happy new year to you! your hummus and baba ghanoush look so tasty--i just want to dip my pita straight into the screen :)

The Knittymommy said...

Mmmmmmmm.... I recently had a conversation with my Uncle M over the holiday weekend about hummus. I have always wanted to make it and now I have a recipe to try.

Baba Ghanouj is my favourite of all time. I can't wait to try it.

rowena said...

I love hummus. And I love baba ghanouj. Only wish that I would make it more often!

I sorta kinda made a new year's resolution but will probably keep it to myself. My only regret is not having documented all that I ate for the New Year's eve feast. I could've filled an entire page or two with photos!

Hauoli Makahiki Hou!

canDIshhh said...

Christine! I absoltely love hummus! Thanks for sharing the recipe! I'm all giddy and excited to try it!! Yey! Happy New Year my dear!! :)

christine said...

Thanks baking soda! Isn't Lebanese food so good? Fortunately, my brother in law is Lebanese so I have access to some authentic recipes. :)

Jo, I can't wait for that post. I still can picture you so clearly, taking pictures of our first ful meal in Cairo, inside the rental, by the little store where we bought our drinks. ahhh lovely memories!

Santos, thanks! Dip away, just don't double dip. ;)

Mieke, please let me know how it comes out when you try it. The great thing about this recipe is you can't really go wrong because it's so easy to tweak to your liking.

christine said...

Hi Rowena, so nice to see you here! I'm assuming that's a new year wish for me, and not Hawaiian curse words hehe. I can only begin to imagine your feast! Good luck with the resolution, and don't be too hard on yourself. :)

Hi Candisshh, happy new year to you too, girl! Hope you like the hummus. :)

Garrett said...

That's a beautiful picture, and sure to pull anyone in!

wysgal said...

Where can you get tahini?

christine said...

Thanks Garrett!

Wysgal, I normally get mine in Santi's. It comes in a while bottle with a green cap. Sometimes tahini is spelled tahineh, or tahine. That's all one and the same, sesame seed paste.

Midge said...

Hi! Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Hummus and baba ghanoush are always good, though the bottled ones sold in most London supermarkets are a horror story and a half! I never thought making these dips was so easy!

Mila Tan said...

I love both hummus and bg, usually eaten both at the same time and I end up making it for myself because I can't get good supermarket ones. I like the idea of substituting black beans, or add some sundried tomatoes! I did the latter once and it was very good.
I have some kick ass olive oil at home these days and am looking forward to making a batch of hummus and roasting a lot of garlic.

Mila Tan said...

Wysgal, you can also get tahini at Healthy Options.

christine said...

Hi Midge, there's really nothing like homemade especially in this case. And when it's this easy, why buy? Thanks for dropping by!

Mila, sometimes I even like scooping them both up in one bite. It's pretty good mixed together that way. :) Yum, I want some now.

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