Let's start off by saying that black beans are not usually included in Middle Eastern cooking. Here in the US we're more likely to find them on the menu of Mexican, southwestern and Latin food restaurants. But they are healthy and loaded with anti-oxidents and their great flavor makes them a nice alternative to chickpeas.
The word hummus comes from the Egyptian term for chickpeas and the recipe, common throughout the countries of the Middle East typically consists of pureed chickpeas blended with tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and herbs. Pre-packaged versions can be found in most large grocery stores across North America.
Typically hummus is used as a dip for pita or flatbread and is almost always found on a mezze (appetizer) platter along with falafel, eggplant, tahini and vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, pickled onions and olives.
Of all the Middle Eastern countries, Israel actually consumes the most amount of hummus and it's served with almost every meal. The ingredients conform to religious kosher dietary laws and can be eaten with both meat and dairy foods.
In the US, bean dips are more common than hummus and are typically eaten with tortilla chips. Although we tend to think of them as Mexican or Mexican inspired, they're really an American invention as refried beans are more typically eaten as a side dish in Mexico.
Black beans are common in bean dips and use many of the same ingredients as hummus. The primary difference is that bean dips get their creaminess from something like sour cream whereas hummus uses the stronger, nuttier flavor of tahini (sesame paste).
Hummus, whether chickpea or black bean based, can include a wide variety of spices so try some cumin, za'atar, oregano or lemony sumac.
Tahini is included in the recipe and can be store bought or made from scratch.
- 1 can (approx. 15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup sesame paste (tahini)
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- Add the rinsed and drained black beans, sesame paste, garlic, olive oil, lime juice and cumin to a food processor and blend until completely smooth and creamy.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in the cilantro (or parsley if you don't like cilantro). If the mixture is too thick for your liking, add half a teaspoon of olive oil and a half teaspoon of lemon juice or water.
- Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.