Chunky Hummus

The sun slipped below the horizon as it has for countless eons. I was sipping ouzo looking out across unending acres of sparse pines that seemed to emphasize the countless ancient ruins – the Temple of Hephaestus, Socrates Prison, the Pnyx. Behind the ruins the last rays cast a deep bronze smoky hue on the sea of white, low buildings that lined the gently sloping hills of the city. Their red roofs slowly turned black as day became night.

This skyline could only belong to one city. I was in Athens sitting at a scratched and dented blue table at the lively little Cafe Dioskouron. I wondered if the blue of the table had a name. Always in Greece it was the same lovely sea blue – I thought ‘Santorini Blue’. Resting at the end of a narrow lane far from the bustle of the city, yet still close to it’s heart, the cafe’s tables and chairs spilled out everywhere. Buildings lined one side of the steep little lane while on the other an old metal fence atop a low wall kept me from sneaking through the pines and exploring those ancient ruins. I could have dreamt of times gone by and wandered like a spectator through the dust of the past. It was mesmerizing sitting there in the last of the day – the faint sound of traffic ever present in the distance, the blinking on of lights as the city prepared itself for that rich and vibrant evening life of a great Mediterranean city. Over my shoulder the spot-lit Acropolis perched on the cliffs high above dominating the Athens skyline.

This was me relaxing at the end of a good day’s work after which we had driven past the home of the original Olympics. Now I was sitting in good company, in a spectacular location and looking down at one of the earliest sites of democracy. I felt elated and privileged.

My host and business colleague, Mr. Damoulakis placed an order with the only waiter. He seemed to be everywhere at once as he served the twenty or so tables crowded with people relaxing at the end of the day. Some nursed small Greek coffees, others a beer or wine but it was the fragrance of ouzo that permeated the air. I felt my saliva glands working hard as chefs worked overtime in the kitchen and roasting meat aromas blended with that of cigarettes and the occasional pipe. From somewhere down the street the strains of soulful music drifted up towards us.

It seemed but an instant later and our waiter hastened back one hand holding up a tray laden with a small bottle of ouzo, glasses, ice and water. Balanced on the other a two foot long oval steel platter piled high with perfectly grilled lamb chops and chicken kebabs, crispy golden brown saganaki and falafels, olives both black and green, great big chunks of feta, crispy salad, creamy tzatziki and babaghanoush and, of course mouthwatering hummus.

I adore hummus and have always been intrigued at how the lowly chickpea has become such a delectable staple in our fridge – but never have I been able to reproduce the flavors of that meze platter in Athens. Flavors and setting are so totally entwined with each other. Whether kebabs in a village restaurant in Iran, scallops in a seafood shack in Scotland or empanadas in someone’s home in Uruguay, each evokes memories of the food that are inextricably tied to the place and people who shared the meal.

But life is not all travel and so when I am home I enjoy trying to relive the meal from some distant journey. It evokes old memories and inspires me to explore cooking. Over the coming weeks I will be exploring and researching hummus and how it is prepared and served across Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Check back from time to time as I post a variety of hummus recipes from traditional to modern.

I’d like to share with you my favorite hummus recipe. I give you quantities as a guideline only. Maybe more lemon, maybe less tahini – you decide how you prefer it. I tend to like some pep in my food, some zing so the spices play a bigger role in this recipe. Enjoy.

Chunky Hummus
Prep Time
15 mins
Total Time
15 mins
Course: Appetizers
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Servings: 12 people
  • 2 cans chickpeas or 800ml cooked chickpeas
  • 2 lemons juiced
  • 5 tbsp tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • water to desired consistency
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 rounded tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 rounded tsp cumin
  1. In a food processor blend all ingredients except for chickpeas

  2. Slowly add chickpeas and blend until smooth

  3. Gradually add water until you reach your desired consistency

  4. If you prefer a chunky consistency keep aside about 1/3 or the chickpeas and crush with a pestle and mortar and then mix into the blended hummus

Recipe Notes

There are so many ways to serve hummus beyond simply as a dip for vegetables or crackers. One of my favorites is to use it instead of butter on a slice of toasted whole-wheat baguette. Add some avocado, a slice of tomato and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. If you have some cayenne or, even better some Middle Eastern Spice like Za'atar it will really perk it up.




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