What if you could eat silken smooth hummus as a main dish and not feel overwhelmed by the oil?
Mussabaha, a Levantine variation of hummus, makes this dream possible!
Advantages to Hummus
Both hummus and mussabaha have their place.
You can’t speak of competition here but in some cases, there are a few advantages of mussabaha over hummus – the opposite is also true of course but we’ll focus on mussabaha here.
Hummus… everybody loves hummus but there is a catch when you have it as a full meal:
Legumes have a pretty dense texture. So much so that if you want to have it as a main dish it has to be creamy, which means that it’ll include a lot of oil, through lots of tahini or lots of olive oil.
It’s delicious, no question, but it’s very heavy. It might knock you out. In addition, there are many other reasons why too much is harmful to your health.
That’s why hummus is often enjoyed as a side, spread or dip.
This mussabaha recipe also comes with quite a bit of oil but it’s still light enough for you to jump around and enjoy the day afterward.f
However, it comes with the full flavor and mouthwatering flavor combination of hummus.
There can’t be enough variations of hummus, can there?
Mussabaha is essentially more chunky and includes whole chickpeas in contrast to its infamous cousin.
You roughly mash up some chickpeas and toss them with tahini, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon.
Many recipes leave it at that and only sprinkle it with parsley and chilli flakes.
Unless mussabaha is served as a side dish, I like a bit of moisture with it, more than the traditional version has. As legumes are pretty dense they’re much more comfortable to eat with high water content in the dish. That’s why people love bean or chickpea stews.
Funnily, the Arabic word msabbaha literally means “swimming” and it obviously refers to the chickpeas. So let ’em swim.
Have you ever seen the residual oil on top of tahini?
You’d usually stir it in but actually, that’s good sesame oil. So feel free to use it with the chickpeas and as a topping along the olive oil.
Regardless, you can skip the oil if you don’t want to use any.
I love to pair dried tomatoes with fruits. Here you can use fresh or dried fruits like plum, diced pear, and raisins… An excellent traditional topping would be pomegranate! Just go with the flow of the seasons.
It’s important that you chop them into small bits. Simply cook them up or soak the dried fruits and tomato for about 10 min so they’re soft but still in shape.
The fragrance of the fruits and the increased amount of water makes the dish even less dependent on the oil.
A beautiful addition common in Damascus are pine nuts and pistachios. Lime juice, sumac, pomegranate and hot sauce are further fantastic toppings.
To mix things up even further I enjoy adding or replacing Garam Masala with the cumin.
if you make this dish with fava beans it’s called foul.
Last but not least, I’ve seen yogurt on mussabaha too. You could also stir it into the chickpea mass.
How to serve
It can be served both hot and cold, as a main and side.
As mentioned, traditionally it is served with warm pita bread (my mouth is watering too).
Usually, it goes along with a salad or vegetable dish. I find root veg like daikon, carrot or parsnip would be a fantastic choice.
Using tinned chickpeas is fine. Personally, I like to cook them myself.
Since I’ve grown up in a Turkish family, it’s normal for me to buy them dried, soak and batch cook them.
Like that, you can choose the best quality chickpeas and moderate the level of softness once they’re cooked.
It’s enough to soak them for at least 8 hours.
If you tend to forget to soak them (I did) because you want to start soaking them in the night, just put them into a bowl of water whenever you think of making chickpeas on the previous day or even the day before.
That will make you much less likely to forget.
It’s completely fine, even better, to soak them up to 48 hours.
After 48 hours the fermentation will have progressed so much that it will affect the flavor – less than 48 hours if it’s warm.
The flavor of fermented chickpeas is not for everyone.
Tips and Tricks
If you want optimum time saving, cook as much as your pots allow and freeze them in two-portion batches. That way cooking chickpeas yourself is pretty effortless.
A brief note on sustainable packaging practice: You can use glass containers, food hygienic silicone bags or plastic bags with a zip zop top that you can clean by hand with soap.
For optimal intensity, it is essential that you use raw garlic in this recipe. You definitely don’t want to go to a party if you do. However, you can leave them out or cook them if that’s not your thing.
To peel them fast, cut off the bottom, and slice them in half lengthwise. 80% of the time the peel will come off easily.
For both mussabaha and hummus, you want your chickpeas on the softer spectrum of cooked.
I do the latter one since I batch-cook a lot and have a mobile lifestyle. I can’t carry around ten glass containers or silicone bags with me, or buy them anew every time.
You don’t want to mash the chickpeas too much. Mussabaha is meant to have more bite to it.
So mash them until they come together and add a little bit of water. For 2-3 portions you can do that with a fork within 1-2 minutes.
Leave some of them whole. You can also use a food processor which I would recommend if you’re cooking for more than three people – since you also have to clean it.
If you’ve made it till here, chances are you really love chickpeas. Check out this chickpea salad with lemon zest dressing.
What would your favorite toppings be? Let me know in the comments below.
Mussabaha with Dried Tomatoes and Fruits (Msabbaha)
For the chickpeas
- 3 cups chickpeas cooked, roughly mashed with a fork
- ½ tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp tahini
- 1-3 cloves garlic minced or crushed
- salt, pepper
- (olive oil)
- lemon juice
- dried tomatoes
- fresh or dried fruits
- (more garlic to taste)
- (olive oil)
- (chilli flakes)
- Mash the chickpeas with a fork, potato masher, or food processor. Add the cumin and garlic and heat it up in a pot.
- Heat the dried tomatoes and fruits with the lemon juice and water.
- Serve with some whole chickpeas on the top and pour the sauce over the center. Top with parsley.