hummusWhat is wrong with me that I got so out of the habit of making my own hummus?  I’d been blaming lack of time, but when you find yourself eating something regularly that is considered easy to make, you do start to wonder.

What finally inspired me was finding the taratoor sauce my favorite recipe calls for at Trader Joe’s.  (They call it “tahini sauce” and it’s sold right near the refrigerated hummus.)

Taratoor is a mixture of sesame paste, garlic, lemon juice, water and salt.  It is a key ingredient in traditional hummus, even though my hummus recipe also calls for more garlic and lemon juice.  That’s because, in the Middle Eastern kitchen, taratoor is kept on hand for other uses, like dolloping on cooked fish or cauliflower.  But if you just wanted to make hummus, making taratoor first seems like a redundant pain in the neck, due to the ingredient overlaps.  The quandary must have been a subliminal disincentive to me, because the minute I spied the sauce ready made at T. J.’s I decided to make hummus.

So I turned to my trusty Times Life Foods of the World book on the Middle East, and got to work. First of all, I fortunately noticed that the T. J.’s “tahini” is quite salty, 2 tablespoons has 135 milligrams.  I was not about to put a cup of that in with my two cans of chickpeas.  So I used less, and in future will just avoid the taratoor step alltogether, putting sesame paste directly into the processor with the chickpeas, and extra garlic and lemon juice, plus a little salt.  I also add a bit of olive oil and a dash each of cayenne and cumin, none of which are in the recipe.  I also add some water to thin it a little, being careful not to overdo that.  (I always have sesame paste on hand, but in truth it’s mostly so I can make Mark Bittman’s unbelievably delicious chicken thighs.)

Finally – home made hummus! (But nothing else in the photo here is home made, I had purchased the grape leaves, tabbouli, and tzatziki at T. J.’s when I bought the tahini sauce.  Baby steps.)

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