Certain dishes hold an almost legendary status. Everyone probably has a different one that their grandmother, friend, or family member makes. They’ve shared their recipe with you, and yet, your attempts at recreating the original never quite turn out like they should. For me, this recipe has been hummus.
A few years ago, my dad got hummus down to an art. I’d only had restaurant and store-bought versions until he decided he was going to find out the secret behind great hummus. He found it – garlic, and it didn’t take long for us all to start chopping up carrot sticks and pita bread to enjoy it with. Soon, everyone was asking him to make up a batch for parties, bring some over as an appetizer, etc. He even bought a bulk package of these cute little disposable containers to put the hummus in he was giving so much away. And with it, he included the simple recipe on a yellow post-it note each time.
But it didn’t seem to make any difference. I tried to make it on my own, but it never turned out the same. Instead, I’d go over to visit and wait around until he suggested making some for me to take home.
Usually, this method sufficed, but with my dad on vacation, I couldn’t wait any longer for my hummus. I had to give it one last shot. This time, I followed the recipe like I thought I had before. And to my surprise it came out great!
I realized what had been happening in all those other attempts: I’d balked at the sheer volume of garlic in the recipe, and made my own modifications without really realizing it. This time, I squeezed the cloves of fresh garlic through the garlic press one at a time, and threw them all in. (I was desperate for some good hummus!)
The surprise result? It turned out just like dad’s famous hummus. He always swore that the secret was the garlic, but I think I was holding back, afraid of overdoing it. The garlic is needed to add some bite to the earthy flavor of the garbanzo beans and tahini (a paste of ground sesame seeds, available at Mediterranean food markets). And the addition of the sumac (another Mediterranean spice) gives it a rich, authentic flavor.
I got out some crunchy pita chips to enjoy the result: smiles served up with some serious garlic breath.
Dad’s famous hummus
- 16 oz can garbanzo beans (chick peas)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1/4 teaspoon sumac
- Drain and rinse garbanzo beans in a colander.
- Use a garlic press to crush the garlic cloves.
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.