You can buy hummus, but this homemade version is excellent. Vary it by using more or less lemon and garlic and adding dill, hot pepper flakes, minced roasted peppers or olives. New York Times writer Jane Brody even adds a dollop of plain yogurt—it’s delicious!
Chickpeas: drain and simmer chickpeas for 30 minutes, just to make certain they're tender. Reserve cooking water.
Blend: in a food processor, combine chickpeas with lemon juice, tahinii, and garlic. Blend to a smooth, creamy consistency. If you need more liquid, add a bit of the cooking water. Add salt to taste.
Serve: turn out into a bowl or platter. Create a small “crater” in the center and dribble with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with paprika and some finely chopped parsley. Serve with pita.
* You can also use 1/2 lb. dried chick peas. Use Quick Soak method to prepare for cooking: cover peas with water, bring to a boil for 1 minute. Turn off heat and let sit for 1 hour. Then simmer for 30-45 minutes till tender. You can also use Overnight Soak method: let peas sit overnight in a bowl, covered with water. Cook peas 30-45 minutes the next day till tender.
Tips & Glossary
You may not have all the ingredients used in Turkish cooking on your spice shelf, but you'll find them at Middle-East food stores. To avoid frustration, make a list of items you need before trying out the recipes.
Cumin: an aromatic, kin to parsley and carrots; an important ingredient in chili powder. Used especially in Indian curries, as well as in Mid-Eastern, Mexican, and Asian dishes. It has an earthy, peppery flavor.
Filo: aka phyllo, paper-thin sheets of raw, unleavened flour dough. Buy frozen in any grocery store and follow directions on package for thawing. When working with one sheet, keep others covered with a damp towel to prevent drying out.
Peeled Tomatoes: choose 1 of 2 methods: 1) hold tomatoes one-at-a-time over gas flame till skin bubbles and becomes charred; 2) drop all tomatoes into pot of boiling water for 45 seconds. After either method, run tomatoes under running water; skins will slip off easily.
Roasted peppers: buy them prepared. Or make your own: place peppers under a broiler, or hold over a gas flame, till skin chars and blisters. Place them in a closed paper bag for 15-20 minutes (to steam them). When cool enough to handle, the skins slip off under running water.
Rosewater: distilled from rose petals and used to flavor Mid-Eastern and Asian cooking. You can make your own—but why? Purchase it at Mid-East or Asian or food stores.
Saffron: the most expensive spice in the world, from the crocus plant, and cultivated in Iran and Spain. Along with its unusual taste, it adds a deep rich yellow color to food. Use a strand or two at a time and soak in warm water before using.
Skewers: use metal or wooden skewers for kabobs. If wooden, be sure to soak them for 30 minutes before using to prevent them from catching on fire.
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