Hummus – Yours Is Still The Best – WHAT’S EATING EZRA

Hummus. Battle lines are drawn whenever I mention the word.  There is always someone who makes it “best.”  Even my own family has differing opinions.  No tahini, more lemon, less salt, extra garlic.  There are very few foods as ubiquitous these days, or as healthy.  We eat a lot of hummus in my house. It is a staple, especially for the vegetarians at the table, and super easy to make. 

Although we were unanimous in our final decision after a blind tasting of four hummus dishes, we still continued to debate the flavour — we just knew it was great (and it was amusing to see my kids sitting at the table reaching in the air for imaginary spoons while blindfolded!).  But I still prefer to make it at home.  For me, it is about control of the ingredients.  If I’m eating oil, I want it to be extra virgin and not filler vegetable oil, all salts are not created equal, and I prefer real lemons to bottled lemon juice and garlic cloves to a powder.  Plus, why go out if you can make it better from scratch?   I regularly use hummus as a stage for fried mushrooms, caramelized onions or whatever else is lying around, drizzled in heated olive oil with lemon zest, fried garlic and za’atar.  

The first time I went into Chamsine (chhum’zeen. Pronounce the ‘ch’ like you are choking and now called “kababana“) at the corner of St. Clair and Vaughan and ordered hummus, I was surprised by how good it was. I’m wired for low expectations so I can be astonished or relieved experiencing a different outcome.  So, I went back thinking it wouldn’t be as good the second time — still excellent — then a third and fourth time. It’s still things in, and no bullshit.  Getting the flavour of hummus to be consistent isn’t easy. The same recipe can bring different results depending on the maker or how the ingredients are combined.   In our tasting, we also liked Aish Tanoor and Jerusalem on Eglinton.  Fat Pasha was good, but a smear of hummus with 15 chickpeas, largish flakes of Italian parsley and smoked paprika at over $14 annoyed me (but we did get a slice of pickle and a hot pepper, and the staff there were super friendly, so that was something).  Hummus from Sababa and Tabule, not in our blind tasting, is also worth mentioning.  Perhaps I was in already in a bad mood when I went into a much-hyped-up place on Geary, but I really couldn’t bear any more disappointment that day when I tried to order some and was informed, rather smugly, that they don’t do take-out during brunch. 

From the Hummussiah

I like to eat hummus as a meal so my overall favourite experience was at The Hummussiah near Church and Dundas. Hummus is the star of the show — go there, nothing to fear travelling south of Bloor.  Very few things in life make me as happy as a bowl of hummus with warm chickpeas, olive oil, a huge spoonful of homemade zhug/harif (middle eastern chili paste), tons of tahini, freshly fried eggplant and a total lack of pretention.  The owner recommended I try the falafel balls, which I will, as I plan to eat there weekly.    

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