Hummus bi Tahina

A popular appetizer from the Middle East, Hummus bi Tahina (hoo-mooss bee tah-hee-nah) is a dish of cooked chick-peas, mashed to a purie and flavoured with lemon, garlic and crushed sesame seeds. Serve with flat Greek bread and black olives. Tahina, or sesame paste, may be obtained at any Greek or Middle Eastern provision store, or at most health food stores.

8 oz. dried chick-peas, soaked overnight and drained juice of 1 lemon 2 garlic cloves, crushed 6 fl. oz. tahina (sesame paste)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Place the chick-peas in a medium-sized saucepan. Half-fill the saucepan with cold water and place the pan over moderately high heat. Bring the water to the boil, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Simmer the peas for 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until the chick-peas are tender. Drain the chick-peas and set them aside. Reserve the cooking liquid.

Place the chick-peas in a mortar and pound them to a puree with a pestle, adding just enough of the cooking liquid to give the puree a creamy paste consistency. Alternatively, puree the chick-peas in a blender, adding just enough cooking liquid to obtain a creamy paste consistency.

Add the lemon juice, garlic and tahina paste, beating constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture is thick and smooth. If the mixture is too thick, gradually stir in more of the cooking liquid until the paste reaches the desired consistency.

Spoon the paste into a serving bowl and spoon the olive oil on top. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve.

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