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How To Eat Hummus Like An Israeli
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How To Eat Hummus Like An Israeli

Picture of Rachel Myerson
Updated: 30 November 2016
Forget the pre-packaged, refrigerated stuff of supermarkets. Hummus in Israel is something else entirely. Get down and dirty with one of Israel’s most beloved dishes using these simple rules.
Humus Courtesy of Rachel Myerson
Humus Courtesy of Rachel Myerson

Hummus is a Meal

Abroad you will find hummus chilled, among the babaganoushes and the salsas, serving as a mere dip, nothing more than a starter. This is not the case in Israel, where hummus is a main course, and a prestigious one at that. It is acceptable to eat at all times of the day and the standard method of proposal is: ‘Wanna go get some hummus?’

‘Yalla.’ This dish is also cheap; as a general rule, the dirtier the location, the tastier its produce. Follow this at your own risk.

The Toppings

There is no red pepper hummus in Israel, that is simply not a real thing. Hummus’ base is chickpeas, no room for experimentation. There are, however, enough approved variations to ensure the dish remains exciting. Classic toppings are a dusting of paprika, a squeeze of lemon, a slug of olive oil and a sprinkling of parsley. Fried mushrooms and eggplant are acceptable adornments, as is shakshuka. Full (fava bean paste) is a highly revered option, and reaches its peak when served with tahini and a hard boiled egg, known as hummus triple. To achieve hummus nirvana, go for hummus basar, literally ‘hummus with [ground] meat.’

Humus Courtesy of Julia Purcell
Humus Courtesy of Julia Purcell

No Cutlery Allowed

Two vehicles may transport the hummus from the bowl into your mouth: soft, fluffy pita or half moons of raw, white onion. Don’t fight the system, just go with it. This explains the ‘two pitas, one hummus’ ratio rule; it is both a side and a spoon. Your face will be filthy at the end of the meal, but luckily there are always napkin dispensers, and a metal bowl for the trash on every table. That’s service. Falafel is another acceptable side dish/eating tool.

Variations

Many argue that the most authentic form of hummus is masabacha. The main difference between the two is texture; while hummus is creamy, masabacha is chunkier. The chickpeas are left whole/halved instead of ground to a paste, then mixed with cumin, lemon juice, parsley, minced garlic and tahini. Pine nuts fried in olive oil are often poured on top as means on decoration, and spicy green chili paste is served at the side.

Humus Courtesy of Rachel Myerson
Humus Courtesy of Rachel Myerson

Try it!

Like football, locals tend to get riled up on the subject of hummus. Take these recommendations with a pinch of salt and don’t blame us.

Abu Gosh, 85 Dizengoff Street, Tel Aviv, 03-6040602

Abu Hassan, Shivtei Israel St 14, Tel Aviv-Yafo, and Sarona Market. Sarona Market, 3 Kalman Magen St. Tel Aviv, 03-6242424

Abu Adham, Carlebach St 7, Tel Aviv-Yafo, 6713211, 03-562-5051
Hateimani, Yehuda Halevi 39, Rothchild Qtr, Tel Aviv-Yaffo, 03-5663939

Hummus Eliyahu, Lavontin St 2, Tel Aviv-Yafo, 6511101, 03-609-9834