This hummus is a shout-out to the glory days of student study abroad life in Jerusalem. There’s a place, Lina’s, in the middle of the Old City that my friends and I discovered about a month before we left the Holy Land. It was a tiny little shop, squeezed in there between other stores, with a few tables crammed in the small space. Every time we went, we would climb the skinny staircase to the 2nd floor and take a seat in the plastic chairs, admiring all the Coca-Cola paraphernalia as we waited for the hummus to arrive. It always came with an entourage of pitas the size of plates and a meze spread full of bright green and red pickled things, the latter which I never tried because by the time I was done shoveling the warm, smooth hummus on warm, fluffy pita into my mouth, my stomach was full to burst.
Among the many memories I cherish from my time in the Holy Land, the memory of Lina’s hummus immediately landed a special place in the “must conquer” food list in my head. On the quest to replicate it, I learned a few things: you must use dried chickpeas (not canned!) to get the best flavor, and you must cook the chickpeas in baking soda for a few minutes before boiling them (this is to help the skins come off the chickpeas, resulting in smoother hummus, but it also does affects the taste!). It’s the closest I’ve gotten to the replicating Lina’s hummus. If that doesn’t convince you, just know that it makes everything from pitas to lettuce taste incredible. I frequently eat it straight out of the bowl because it’s that good.
This recipe is a mashup: the technique is from Jerusalem: A Cookbook, and the ingredient amounts are from myjewishlearning.net.
1 ¼ c chickpeas
1 tsp baking soda
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup tahini (I prefer the Ziyad brand)
1 small garlic clove
½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
100 ml ice water
In a large bowl, cover the chickpeas with plenty of cold water, at least twice their volume, and soak overnight.
The next day, drain the chickpeas. Heat a large saucepan to medium high heat and add the chickpeas and baking soda and cook for 3 minutes. Add 6 ½ cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam or skins that float to the top. Cook for 20-40 minutes, or until the chickpeas are soft and will squish easily when you squeeze them.
Drain the chickpeas and process in a food processor. While it’s running, add the lemon juice, garlic, tahini, the ½ teaspoon salt. Next, slowly drizzle the ice water and let it the machine run for 2 more minutes. The hummus should at this point should be extremely smooth. Taste and add more salt if needed.
To serve, spread it on a plate and top with toasted pine nuts, plenty of olive oil, and warm pitas on the side.