One of the most common and most delicious dishes to be found in Egypt and in the Middle East is Hummus bi-Tahina mashed chickpeas with seasoning and sesame seed puree. Chickpeas are used in many dishes in this region, but served frequently as the mezze or appetizer course, to be scooped up with fresh pita or other local breads.
As Habeeb Salloum writes in his book, From the Lands of Figs and Olives:
Many believe that chickpeas increase the energy and sexual desires of both men and women. Shaykh Umar Abu Mohammad, a 16th century North African Arab writer, in his book, The Perfect Garden, suggests chickpeas as a cure for impotence and as a first-rate sexual stimulant. In the eastern Arab lands, the peasants are convinced that chickpeas have qualities which give them the essential energy necessary for their lives of toil. As is often the case with folk wisdom, modern science supports such claims as least partially: chickpeas are a valuable source of both muscle-building proteins and energy rich carbohydrates.1
While we are leaving the testing of Hummus as an aphrodisiac up to you, here is our recipe. Adding candlelight and flowers will make any meal more romantic!
* 1 cup chickpeas
* 1 cup tahina sauce *
* 1 tablespoon lemon juice
* olive oil
* parsley leaves
* chili powder
* slices of lemon
Soak the dried chickpeas overnight. Drain, add fresh water, and simmer until tender, about 1 hour. Drain. Set aside a spoonful of whole chickpeas for decoration and mash or pound the rest. Add tahina sauce* and lemon juice to chickpeas and blend to a smooth paste. Sprinkle top with olive oil and garnish with whole chickpeas, finely chopped parsley, chili powder and slices of lemon (optional).
Variations: Canned chickpeas may be used and therefore omitting the soaking and simmering step. You may use a food processor or blender to make the puree. Being a local or baladi recipe, the amount of lemon juice may vary according to taste from 1 up to 6 tablespoons. However, I would recommend using fresh ingredients.
Tahina Sauce (Salatit tahina)
1 cup tahina (sesame seed puree, available in specialty food stores or the international section of large groceries)
1 to 2 cups of water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 small onion, chopped
3-5 crushed garlic cloves (optional)
finely chopped parsley (optional)
To tahina, add water, lemon juice, salt, cumin and vinegar then stir thoroughly until well blended and a smooth paste will result. Or, dissolve salt in water, then add cumin, lemon juice and vinegar. Stir, then gradually add tahina stirring constantly. Add any or all of the optional ingredients, according to taste. You may also use a blender or food processor at a slow speed.
1. From the Lands of Figs and Olives, Habeeb Salloum and James Peters, 1995 Interlink Publishing Group, Inc.
Last Updated: Aug 9th, 2011