My mother entered her hummus phase sometime in the mid-1970s. From that time on, hummus with veggies launched just about every party at the Grodinsky household. For years, I lobbied against its inclusion on the Thanksgiving appetizers table, because it offended my sense of culinary cohesion. The dip, I felt strongly, had no place on a menu of turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

My culinary perspective hasn’t changed, but if my mom wanted to make it today (she doesn’t cook much anymore), I’d happily give in. Thanksgiving, I’ve come to understand, is meant to bring the family together – from curmudgeonly uncles and crazy aunts to sullen teens, Sanders supporters and Trump backers – and my conviction extends to their wrong-headed food demands.

Hummus plays a unifying role of sorts in Israel, too, according to the documentary (or at least to the very funny, lively trailer for) “Hummus! The Movie,” which will be showing on Monday in Portland as part of the Jewish Film Festival. According to publicity material, the film “celebrates the lives and work of some of Israel’s finest hummus makers – Christian, Arab and Jewish. While politics and religion may divide them, they are united in their passion for making and serving extraordinary hummus.”

If the trailer is any indicator, the film will:

1) make you very hungry

2) persuade you to never ever buy lousy, supermarket hummus again or – God forbid! – hummus from a vending machine

A “hummus restaurateur” at work in Israel in a scene from “Hummus! The Movie.” Courtesy of Maine Jewish Film Festival

To help you avoid those wretched plastic tubs of a dip that these days seems as American as, well, bagels, we reached out to Tiqa restaurant owner Deen Haleem and new chef Gaetano Ascione to send us their recipe for hummus. The recipe came from Haleem, whose background is Palestinian, but these days Ascione oversees the kitchen, so Haleem handed him the phone. Ascione admitted right off the bat that he came late to hummus – he grew up on the Amalfi coast – but added that, as an Italian, he is very familiar with chickpeas. He proceeded to list a number of classic Italian chickpea dishes, and he told us about an interesting practice at olive oil tastings that we’d never heard of before: Between sips of different oils, tasters snack on boiled chickpeas, “like a sorbet, to cleanse the palate of the different flavors of olive oil.”

According to Deen Haleem, owner of Portland’s Tiqa, hummus made with dried chickpeas improves freshness and quality. Photo courtesy of Tiqa

Ascione, who has done some serious globe-trotting, spending time in kitchens in Switzerland, Singapore, South Africa, India, Miami, Chicago and elsewhere, first tasted hummus at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, then came to know it better when he lived in New York, which has both Jewish and Arabic populations.

“Hummus you cannot really have a recipe,” Ascione told us. “It’s like a curry – it’s not just a powder you go into the supermarket and buy. Hummus changes from family to family, from region to region, from state to state. It’s not something you can pinpoint.”

It’s the sort of food, he continued, that prompts people who were raised on regular helpings of hummus to complain, “It doesn’t taste like my grandmother used to make it.”

“There is no such thing as the best hummus in the world,” he continued. “The best hummus in the world is the one that everybody makes and is his own.”

Use Tiqa’s recipe as a jumping-off point.

Peggy Grodinsky can be contacted at 791-6453 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @pgrodinsky


Recipe courtesy of Tiqa restaurant in Portland. Tiqa proprietor Deen Haleem says using dried chickpeas improves the quality and freshness of the hummus. He adds that hummus is best eaten warm, just after it’s made.

8 ounces dried chickpeas

3-4 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 cup tahini

About 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Extra-virgin olive oil and paprika, to serve

Soak the chickpeas overnight in a large pot (the chickpeas will swell) in about twice as much water as beans.

The next day, drain the chickpeas, then add a generous amount of fresh water to the pot. (If you like, add 1 teaspoon salt.) Bring the water to a boil, then turn down the heat to a fast simmer and cook until the chickpeas are very soft and can be easily crushed by your fingers. The timing can vary, depending on the age of the beans. Drain the chickpeas, reserving the cooking water.

Put the chickpeas in a blender or food processor and add a small amount of the water they were boiled in. Blend and continue to add the reserved cooking water until the chickpea mixture is the texture of molasses. Add the garlic, tahini, lemon juice and spices and blend until the mixture is very smooth with no lumps of any size. Taste and correct the seasonings.

Serve the hummus on a plate. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with paprika.

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