by Jane Rodmell for All The Best Fine Foods, a ‘Certified Good Food Fighters’

All through July the kitchen of All The Best will be filled with the sweet spicy aromas of the ‘souq’…cardamom, coriander and cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. We take a short side trip to enjoy some of the traditional dishes of North Africa and then continue our Mediterranean journey and head east to savour the delicious foods of the Levant. Chef Olivia and her team are preparing local meats and fresh seasonal vegetables with traditional blends of herbs and spices that make the foods of this part of the world so distinctive and utterly delicious.

In store you’ll find many of the popular ‘maze’ of the Middle East (‘meze’ in Greece)–the array of many finger foods that are served as an appetizer course or as part of a feast…. stuffed grape leaves, cheeses, olives, falafel, kebabs and a selection of spicy dips.

Classic Hummus

Variations of this popular Middle Eastern dip crowd supermarket shelves. Our taste buds have become de-sensitized into thinking that the many commercial renditions available are what this chickpea dip should really taste like. Don’t be fooled! You only have to taste Dubi Filar’s hummus, served at our local meeting place, The Rosedale Diner,  to recognize how most hummus falls short. To make it at home, start with dried chickpeas and cook them until tender. Slip off and discard the skins from the chickpeas before blending to obtain a smooth, silky texture.

½ cup (125 ml) dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked
or 1 can (19 oz/540 ml) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
¼ cup (50 ml) tahini (sesame paste)
1 tsp (5 ml) minced garlic
¼ tsp (1 ml) cayenne
3 tbsp (45 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tbsp (45 ml) olive oil
Sea salt
2-3 tbsp (30-45 ml) water

In a food processor, combine chickpeas, tahini, garlic, cayenne, lemon juice, olive oil and ½ tsp (2 ml) salt. With motor running, add water 1 tbsp (15 ml) at a time, until smooth and desired consistency is reached. Taste and adjust seasoning. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate until serving.

Serve hummus on a shallow plate, topped with a drizzle of fruity extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika, garnished with lemon wedges, ripe olives and wedges of grilled pita bread.

All the best,
p.s. You’ll find lots more ideas for maza in our recently published cookbook: All The Best Recipes
by Jane Rodmell @Robert Rose Inc.