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At the most basic level, Lebanese hummus is a dip or spread that is made from chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice and some spices that have been ground together into a fine paste. Lebanese hummus can at first appear very similar to other types of hummus from the Middle East, although closer inspection indicates its texture and presentation vary slightly. Unlike some Israeli hummus, Lebanese hummus tends to be a thinner mixture with more tahini added and with more emphasis on the chickpeas than on extra spices such as garlic, red peppers or cumin that can overwhelm the dish. The chickpeas also tend to be cooked longer and ground much finer so the finished texture is silken. Despite the minor differences, Lebanese hummus still is usually presented in a bowl, sometimes with a drizzle of olive oil, and eaten with pieces of pita bread or vegetables.
The first step in making Lebanese hummus is to cook the chickpeas that make up the bulk of the dish. Whether being made with dried chickpeas or with soaked canned chickpeas, they are boiled in water before being used so they are cooked through. At some point during the process, the softened chickpeas are rubbed together in the pot to help encourage the skins to come off so the final texture will be smoother than if they were left on.
Once the chickpeas have finished cooking, they are placed in a food processor, mortar and pestle, or food mill and ground down until they form a smooth paste. The next ingredient is tahini, which is a paste made from ground sesame seeds and some olive oil. The tahini and the chickpeas are mixed together until the color of the mixture becomes pale.
At this point, different recipes for Lebanese hummus call for different ingredients. Most often, ground garlic and a small pinch of cumin are added to the mixture. Other times, paprika, salt, pepper or even hot chili powder can be added. Fresh lemon juice is important to the overall taste and is mixed in near the end, although the amount depends on how much lemon flavor is desired in the final dish. If the mixture becomes too thick, water left after boiling the chickpeas can be added to thin it down to the desired consistency.
When served, Lebanese hummus usually is placed in a shallow, wide bowl and drizzled with olive oil so it sits on the surface of the dip. Fresh sprigs of parsley, mint or cilantro also can be placed on top. It traditionally is served with pieces of pita bread that are used to scoop the hummus out of the dish, although it also can be used with vegetables. Some recipes even use the hummus as a sauce for meats such as roasted lamb.
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