Traditional Israeli Hummus

Traditional Israeli Hummus

We’ve been eating store-bought hummus in the tub for a long time and loving every bite of it. Of course, we’d doctor it up with fresh garlic, lemon juice and olive oil — and sometimes other fresh herbs.

And then we had our first bite of homemade (or restaurant-made) Israeli hummus.

Famous Chef John Besh opened New Orleans’ first Israeli fine restaurant in 2015 along with co-partner Chef Alon Shaya. The place was an instant success, winning the James Beard Foundation’s Best New Restaurant award only one year later. After a nasty and very public split between the partners, Chef Shaya went on to open his own restaurant, Saba, down the street on the corner of Magazine and Nashville (very close to where Vicky lives).

The Israeli hummus served at both of these restaurants is nothing short of mind-blowing. Nothing like the hummus in a tub. Creamy, smooth — almost pillowy. It practically floats on your palate. We couldn’t wait to try our hands at it. Chef Alon Shaya posted his recipe for hummus and you can try it — but it’s complicated and time-consuming. We’ve come up with a version that is doable for the amateur home cook.

We’re not saying you absolutely have to use dried chickpeas soaked in water overnight (instead of canned), but please do give it a try. Because if you do, you won’t look back. Ever.

Tips for making Israeli hummus

  • Do not skip the baking soda. Baking soda is crucial. It’s what breaks down the tough outer skin and shortens the cooking time of the beans dramatically.
  • Tahini brands vary dramatically and tahini is another key element. Some are tan and thick like peanut butter, others are pale and watery. Pick a quality brand. Soom’s Sesame Premium Tahini is a good one and can be ordered online. Whole Food’s 365 Brand is a decent brand. Your tahini should be a pale tan and pourable but not thin.
  • Tahini can be hard to find in your average grocery store. You’ll find it with condiments, on the “international” aisle, or with peanut and other nut butters. Do yourself a favor: Order the good stuff online.
  • There are endless variations of this recipe. You can add a cut up roasted or sautéed red pepper, you can add an avocado. Spice things up and add cumin, chipolte, or za’atar. You get the picture.

Traditional Israeli Hummus

June 20, 2019
: 20 min


  • 1 1/3 cup dried chickpeas (often called garbanzo beans)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 cup tahini (Light roast)
  • 3 cloves of garlic grated or crushed
  • 4 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 6 tbsp. ice water
  • 1 tsp. cumin, za’atar, curry powder or canned chipotle (optional seasonings/toppings)
  • Step 1 Soak the dried peas overnight in a large bowl of water (enough water to cover them by 2-3 inches). If not overnight, soak for 2-3 hours.
  • Step 2 Drain the peas.
  • Step 3 In a dutch oven and on medium high heat, sauté the chickpeas with a teaspoon of baking soda for about 3 minutes.
  • Step 4 Add enough water to cover the chick peas by at least 2 inches and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook until the peas are very tender, i.e., break apart easily between your fingers (anywhere from 30-45 minutes). You’ll need to skim the white foam that’ll rise to the top.
  • Step 5 Crush the garlic and mix with the lemon juice and salt. Let sit for at least 10 minutes to mellow the taste of the garlic.
  • Step 6 When the peas are tender, drain them and pulse in a food processor until peas are broken down.
  • Step 7 Add the tahini and pulse until incorporated
  • Step 8 Add the lemon juice mixture and pulse a few times more. While the processor is running, add the ice water, tbsp. by tbsp.
  • Step 9 Continue to pulse until mixture is smooth and creamy.
  • Step 10 Transfer to a bowl and add seasonings/toppings of your choosing (here, I used a teaspoon of paprika and some chopped parsley).
  • Step 11 Cover with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap touches the surface of the hummus.
  • Step 12 Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  • Step 13 Serve with chopped parsley and extra virgin olive oil.