You know those recipes in magazines where someone writes in requesting a recipe for such-and-such after having it at some restaurant because it was sooo good that they want to recreate it at home? I've always wondered if those recipes truly match up to the original.
I bookmarked the recipe for Zahav's hummus (or at least a recipe for hummus from Michael Solomonov, Zahav's chef) a long time ago - before my visit to Zahav - and, since I've now tasted the real deal, thought I'd break out the recipe to see if it matched up. The original bookmarked recipe is no longer there (this is a huge problem of bookmarking online recipes), but I found the recipe elsewhere on Food and Wine (and I'll reprint the recipe in case it goes missing again).
I followed the recipe to a tee (minus whole chickpea garnish), and the resulting hummus was very similar to Zahav's tahini hummus, but there were some major differences, and it simply was just was not as good!
Tahini hummus at Zahav.
The one major difference was the garnish of olive oil that is clearly visible in the actual restaurant version of Zahav's hummus. The recipe, on the other hand, says to blend tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic together to ladle in the center of the hummus, instead of using straight olive oil. I did not like the recipe's tahini and olive oil mixture, and, having tried this once, would never do this again. Instead, I'd just glug some olive oil on top - and that's only if I were presenting the dish to others, since I don't liberally throw around oil when dining alone.
The other major difference was the texture. Zahav's restaurant version was silky smooth; mine not so much. Even with a Cuisinart food processor, I could not get the hummus as smooth as Zahav's. There simply was not enough of the reserved cooking liquid called for in the recipe to make the hummus smoother. My cooked chickpeas were tender, but maybe they should have cooked longer to absorb more water. Maybe I need a Vita-Mix.
Taste-wise, the hummus was very similar, being a mildly spiced hummus with a gentle undertone of tahini.
Are my results the case of difference in quality of ingredients? The lack of a more powerful tool that can puree the bean dip into a silky smooth consistency? Is this restaurant recipe not completely accurate? Does this experiment underscore that you should go with your gut (in this case, I thought the recipe needed more liquid)? Does the atmosphere of the restaurant and the dining experience make food taste better? Or is it just that a different cook stirred the pot?
I think it's all of the above!
Go to Zahav for the real deal. Follow the recipe for a somewhat satisfactory substitute.
adapted from Michael Solomonov and Food and Wine
makes 4 cups
1/2 pound dried chickpeas
1 tablespoon baking soda
7 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
paprika, for garnish
1/4 cup chopped parsley, for garnish
- In a medium container, cover chickpeas with 2 inches of water, and stir in baking soda. Refridgerate, covered, overnight. Drain, and rinse.
- In a medium pot, add chickpeas and 6 cloves of garlic, and cover with two inches of water. Bring to a boil on the stove, then simmer for 40 minutes, or until beans are tender. Drain, reserving 10 tablespoons of the cooking liquid, and 2 tablespoons of the chickpeas. Rinse beans.
- Remove garlic cloves from beans and peel the garlic.
- In food processor, puress chickpeas, 8 tablespoons cooking water, 6 garlic cloves, 1/4 cup olive oil, cumin, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and 1/4 cup tahini. Season with salt to taste. Transfer to a serving dish.
- Clean out the food processor, then add remaining 1/4 cup tahini, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons cooking water, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1 garlic clove, and puree until smooth.
- Make an indent in the center of the hummus, and spoon tahini and olive oil mixture into center. Garnish with paprika, cumin, parsley, and reserved whole chickpeas.