the appetizer:

Though the Middle East has many specific regional and national cuisines, one item ties them all together: aromatic spices. Middle Eastern cooking also features many ingredients in common, like pita, honey, sesame seeds, sumac, chickpeas, mint and parsley.

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Middle East

Hummos (Chickpea Dip)

This silky protein-rich dip is the queen of the mezzeh, or at least the most famous of a profusion of splendid appetizers. Enjoyed as a light lunch by the shopkeeper in Damascus' ancient souk who scoops it from a cardboard platter, it also graces every fabulous hotel buffet—from Alexandria beside the Nile delta, to Sharjah on the rippling banks of the Arabian Gulf.

1-3/4 cups cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup low-fat yoghurt, water, or liquid in which the chickpeas were cooked
2 cloves garlic, crushed with salt
1/4 cup tahini
1/3 cup lemon juice

olive oil
black Middle Eastern olives
minced parsley

1. purée the ingredients in a blender or food processor, reserving a few whole chickpeas for garnish.

2. Add additional tahini and/or lemon juice if necessary until you have achieved a flavor and consistency that suits your taste. This texture should be thinner than mashed potatoes but with enough body to hold an edge.

3. Spread in an earthenware dish or an oval serving platter, running the side of a spoon around the edge to create a slight rim. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with the reserved chickpeas, paprika, cumin, and olives to add a bit of color. Serve with Arabic bread.

The Arabian Delights
by Anne Marie Weiss-Armush
$15.00 / paperback
Lowell House, 1994
ISBN: 1-56565-219-3
Recipe reprinted by permission.

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This page modified January 2007