Wednesday, October 10, 2007


I've been making hummus for a while... The stuff they sell in the grocery store is really not as good as what you can make in your blender. Here's a food column about my fav dip.

Chickpea dip a simple way to whip up Middle East flavors

Wednesday, October 10, 2007 12:21 PM CDT


Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting and faithful reflection, is coming to an end this week. At a time when many Americans are preparing for the biggest holiday meal of the year, and looking forward to filling Christmas cookie tins, Muslims in America and all over the world are abstaining from food and drink from dawn til dusk.

I admire both their sacrifice and their homey, food-filled celebrations after the sun sets.

When I was a graduate student in Champaign, Ill., a friend invited me to her home to break the fast with other Muslim women. I was curious to see how a segment of Americans — often seen as a mystery — live during Ramadan. And more importantly, I was eager to eat a Middle Eastern feast.

My hostess said she actually gains weight during the month of fasting because of the decadent nightly potlucks. The women in the house had been cooking for some time —preparing not one, but two identical meals because the men in their religious community meet in a separate house.

After kneeling with noses to the carpet in prayer, the women crowded into the dining room to fill their plates. I followed the line to the table, hoping for chickpea appetizers like hummus and falafel. I hoped there would be a parsely-rich fatoosh salad or savory marinated kebabs.

I was a little shocked to discover a roasted turkey, stuffing and mashed sweet potatoes spread upon the buffet table. The theme for that night’s meal, my hostess informed me, was an American Thanksgiving meal.

Fortunately, many Middle Eastern dishes are simple to prepare at home. To get my fix of the zesty flavors of the region, I like to make my own hummus — a dip traditionally made from chickpeas and sesame paste, seasoned with lemon juice and garlic.

The addictive flavors complement fresh vegetables and can be used in pita sandwiches. In addition to being tasty and versatile, hummus’ fiber-packed bean base is very healthful.

Easy At-home Hummus

1 15-ounce can chickpeas
1 large lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large cloves chopped garlic, or to taste
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Drain chickpeas, reserving liquid. Add chickpeas, sesame seeds, garlic and oil to a blender or food processor and squeeze lemon juice over it all. Blend ingredients until smooth, adding a little of the reserved liquid at a time to make the mixture blend more smoothly.

Pour hummus onto a serving plate and drizzle with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and ground cumin, if desired.

Enjoy hummus as a dip for toasted pita wedges, carrot sticks and cucumber slices or spread it on a crunchy falafel sandwich in place of mayo.

Pan-fried Falafel Patties

1 15-ounce can chickpeas
3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
oil for frying

Drain chickpeas then mash them with a fork until the mixture binds together but is still chunky. Add cumin, salt and onion and continue mashing until blended. Shape mixture into 2-inch patties. Coat a non-stick frying pan in canola or olive oil and turn on medium heat. Fry falafel patties until golden brown on each side. Serve in a pita with hummus, lettuce, tomato and cucumber or serve as a finger food with plain yogurt as a dip.

Emily Parrino is a New Era copy editor. She can be reached at 887-3298 or


.thru my eyes. said...

i'm really diggin' your posts...i can't believe i'm starting to find food interesting, i must be getting old. *tear*

Moody Foodie said...

Hi Danielle! Thanks for the compliment :-) As you can tell, I find food VERY interesting.

Rachel said...

that is a really cool article. so interesting! I'm so proud of my Em! :)