Wow! What an honour to be asked to be part of Gefiltefest this weekend, the biggest Jewish food festival in Europe. It was a great opportunity to showcase what I do, to work in a professional kitchen with talented chefs, to connect with some of the leading names in the Jewish food industry and to meet with lots and lots of food lovers.
I was invited to participate in ‘Hummus Wars’ (a battle to be crowned Queen of the Chickpea!) and to run an ‘Israeli Pastry Workshop’ demonstrating how to cook your own home made bourekas. Hey, I wanted that crown so I started researching all about hummus.
Growing up in Israel we had hummus with nearly everything for breakfast, lunch and dinner, hot or cold as a dip or a meal, so I wasn’t intimidated by the thought of making a hummus but I wanted to make something a bit different, something green and fresh like the season, something that would leave a modern taste on your tongue. So that is why I decided to make guacamole hummus. Once I had my recipe ready to go I decided to look for an authentic dish to serve it in, time was running short so I headed to Edgware Road in central London, where the Muslim community proudly serves their dishes on every corner, from Lebanese to Turkish, Iranian food and more.
Due to it being Ramadan Edgware Road was as quiet as I have ever seen it, with hardly anyone about. It was short on people and short on options for authentic Middle Eastern homeware too, although there were plenty of mobile phone shops, pharmacies (that sell mobile phones) and some small uninspiring grocers. The one shop I did find was selling really, how can I put it politely, old fashion Arab style sets with lots of fake gold deco – not what I was looking for really, what a disappointment!
But, my eyes lit up as I found a health grocery shop, As Nature Intended, what a gem! So I bought some purple aubergine, chickpeas sprouts and black sesame crackers, all to go with my dishes at the festival! I didn’t have my serving plate but at least I had my ingredients.
I headed up to the Gefiltefest ready and armed with some great recipes and lots of motivation for the day ahead and what a day it was… in the chef’s kitchen getting ready and doing my prep, I worked side by side with no other than Nof Atamna, the winner of MasterChef Israel, an amazing woman with so much talent and of course I had to ask her for some tips on hummus-making… (“don’t use tinned ones…”)
So I took part in the #hummuswars. As one of the biggest arguments in the Middle East is between the Israelis and Lebanese both claiming the best hummus dish I was expecting to face a Lebanese chef with his knives out, instead I met the lovely Sarah, a French cook who did an amazing job and cooked a traditional hummus served with spiced cauliflower, really delicious.
The show was presented by the fantastic Daniel Young from the blog: young and foodish who I met for the first time and it was a pleasure to work with him. Daniel asked us about our dishes, the ideas behind them, the ingredients and our background. I explained how hummus is a great healthy option for us.
So let me talk to you about hummus. The main ingredients are chickpeas, tahini, lemon and spices. These ingredients are protein-rich, fibre-rich legumes and a source of iron that have been linked to health benefits.
I treat hummus as a blank canvas and whizz it up with roasted vegetables (like roasted cumin carrots or roasted peppers), with caramelized onion and balsamic vinegar, even better with minced meat or lamb on top and of course with some fresh ingredients like avocado & coriander, which is what I used to create my guacamole hummus dish.
There are so many things to do with hummus, but as the name, both in Hebrew and Arabic, means chickpeas, anything without the chickpeas is not a hummus, it’s just a dip!
So here is my hummus recipe, let me know if you enjoyed it and which is your favourite one.
1 x 400gr tin chickpeas, slightly drained (reserve about ¼ -1/2 cup liquid)
1 green chilli
5 cloves garlic, skin on
1 ripe avocado
1/3 cup coriander, chopped
1 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp sea salt
½-1 lemon + 1 lime, juiced
1/3 cup tahini
2-3 TBS pine nuts
OR 2-3 TBS pumpkin seeds
1 tsp olive oil
Pinch of ground cumin
- Preheat oven to 200C.
- Place garlic cloves with skin still on and whole chilli on a baking sheet, with a small amount of olive oil and roast for 15-20 minutes.
- Once done, remove from oven and set aside.
- Peel away the skin and remove seeds from the chilli, peel the skin from the roasted garlic cloves.
- To a food processor, add chickpeas, coriander, avocado, salt, cumin, lime, lemon, roasted chilli, tahini and garlic cloves.
- Blend until creamy and smooth, adding the reserved liquid as needed.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
- To prepare toasted pine nuts or pumpkin seeds, toss the seeds in 1 tsp olive oil and a pinch each of salt and cumin. Fry in a frying pan or roast in the oven until slightly golden.
- Add to top of hummus, along with a drizzle of olive oil, slices of avocado and fresh coriander.
Lots of Love