What makes Israeli-style hummus different from other types of hummus? To some degree it depends on who you ask, but mostly Israeli-style hummus is smoother and creamier than most of the hummus you find in your grocery store. It has a lot more tahini — a paste made from sesame seeds — in it than some other Middle Eastern varieties of hummus.
Israeli-style hummus (or hummus tehina) is what I think of first when I think of hummus. I grew up using the Hebrew pronunciation (חומוס) with a hard “ch” sound at the beginning (as the Rugrats said, “You gotta ‘CH—’ when you say it.”) and a tighter “—oos” sound at the end. Most of the time I stick with the American-ized “hummus” these days, but every now and then I accidentally “CH—” when I say it, which mostly tends to confuse people.
Of course, just because I grew up with the Hebrew pronunciation doesn’t mean that hummus is an Israeli dish. Hummus existed long before Israel did. “Hummus” is actually an Arabic word that means “chickpeas” because, well, that’s primarily what hummus is. Lots of countries, regions, and cultures have tried to claim hummus as theirs over the years — its history can be traced back centuries in North Africa, Egypt, the Middle East, and Mediterranean regions like Greece.
In researching this post I learned that there are seemingly infinite varieties of hummus. The Wikipedia page for Israeli hummus lists 19 types of Israeli hummus alone. And did you know that Lebanon and Israel have gone to court over the classification of hummus?
In the interest of full transparency, I called this “Israeli-style” hummus because the ratio of ingredients most closely resembles other recipes for “Israeli-style” hummus that I found in my research. But like I said, so many cultures claim hummus as theirs and have their own unique spin on the combo of ingredients that it’s probably not too dissimilar from some other cultures’ hummus preparations.
The hummus I grew up eating arrived mostly as leftovers from my mom’s end-of-semester treat for her Middle East history students. She would bring them big platters of Middle Eastern food from local Israeli, Lebanese, or Syrian restaurants, and would always bring the extras home with her. The hummus (and pillowy soft pita bread) was always a highlight. It’s light and super silky and creamy with lots and lots of that distinctive sesame flavor from the tahini.
Your fave grocery store hummus would never.
On the other hand, what Israeli-style hummus has in silky smooth texture it often lacks in bold garlic and lemon flavors. There are so, so many varieties of hummus but I was mostly going for one that was quick and easy to make, used lots of common ingredients, and reminded me of the hummus I grew up eating.
There are three large garlic cloves in this hummus, and that doesn’t include the extra minced garlic garnished on top for serving.
I have heard your jokes about how recipes say one clove of garlic and you use three so this recipe calls for three large cloves right off the bat. It is extra-garlicky hummus, after all. Use more than that at your own peril (and at the peril of those around who who have to smell your garlic breath).
if you want to use dried chickpeas
This recipe uses (1) can of chickpeas, drained. I went this route because when I want hummus, I want it now and I don’t want to have to wait for beans to soak just in order to make it. But on the rare occasion when I want to do it “right” I used dried chickpeas.
Making hummus by rehydrating dried chickpeas is more traditional and will get you even smoother, creamier, and more flavorful results.
If you do want to go this route, start by soaking 1/2 a cup of dried chickpeas overnight in the fridge in a bowl of water. In the morning, drain the water and boil the chickpeas in fresh water, with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp baking soda. Keep the pot on a low boil for about an hour, until the chickpeas are so soft you can smoosh them with your fingers.
Drain them and let them come to room temperature. Now, they’re ready to make hummus. Follow the rest of the recipe as instructed.
let’s make hummus
some notes on hummus
- Drizzling ice water into the bowl of the food processor while it’s running helps you get that signature silky smooth texture. Add more water for a thinner, smoother texture. Add less water for a firmer consistency.
- Depending on where you live tahini might be hard to find in your local grocery store. If you can’t find it in the International aisle near the kosher food, check near the peanut and nut butters. Otherwise, you can order it online. The Strategist has a good guide to the best tahinis here. If you use a tahini that separates, give it a good stir before you add it to your hummus, or pour some of that separated tahini oil right into the food processor.
- Israeli-style hummus is often served with fresh parsley, paprika, za’atar, or toasted pine nuts on top. I kept this recipe simple, but you are more than welcome to get creative with your toppings.
recipes you may also like
- golden pita bread
- salsa roja
- one-avocado guacamole with quick-pickled red onions
- chocolate and rosemary halva hamantaschen
extra garlicky ‘israeli-style’ hummus
- 15 oz garbanzo beans (1 can, drained and rinsed)
- ½ cup tahini (stir well!)
- 1 lemon (3 TBSP lemon juice)
- 3 cloves garlic (big ones, plus more for serving)
- ¾ tsp salt (adjust to taste)
- ⅛ cup ice water (or more for a smoother, thinner texture)
- olive oil (for serving)
- freshly cracked black pepper
- Combine garbanzo beans, tahini, salt, and 3 cloves of garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Puree on high until well combined.
- With the processor running on low, add lemon juice. Increase speed to high and puree until well combined. Remove the lid from the processor and use a spatula to scrape down the sides.
- With the processor running on high, slowly stream in ice water (don't let any cubes get in!) until your desired consistency is reached.
- Taste and adjust salt as needed.
- Add a drizzle of olive oil, freshly cracked black pepper, lemon zest, and/or finely minced or grated garlic right before serving.