Hommus bi-Tahineh is one of the staples of our mezze and is served with a variety of toppings that distinguish our hommus from that of other Middle Eastern countries. In order to get the required smooth ivory mixture, cook the chick peas until very tender and grind them very fine.
1 cup dried chick peas
1 teaspoon baking soda
Scant cup of tahini
Juice of 2 lemons, or to taste
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Salt to taste
Paprika, Cumin, and olive oil for garnish
The night before:
Put the chick peas to soak in three times their volume of water as they will double in size. Stir in one teaspoon baking soda; this should soften them and therefore help reduce the cooking time.
Rinse the chick peas under cold water. Put them in a saucepan, cover well with cold water, and place over high heat. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan and cook for 1 1/2 hours or until very tender.
Drain the chick peas, keeping some of the water in case you need it later to thin the puree. Put the chick peas in a blender or food processor, reserving a few whole peas for the garnish. Process to a smooth puree and transfer to a mixing bowl.
Stir in the tahini. The color of the mixture will become lighter. Add salt to taste and blend well together. Pour in half of the lemon juice and add the rest gradually to reach the desired flavor and level of sourness. Add the crushed garlic and mix again.
If the puree is too thick, add in some of the soaking water to thin it down. The puree should be soft and creamy, but not runny. Taste, adjust the seasonings if necessary, then pour into a shallow round or oval bowl and spread across the dish, raising the puree slightly over the sides. Arrange the reserved chick peas in a little mound in the middle. Sprinkle the raised edges with paprika and cumin and trickle a little olive oil into the dip between the spices and the mound of whole chickpeas.