Talk to people from the Middle East about hummus, and the first thing you hear is that this dip in the U.S. is nothing like the one they enjoy at home. According to my Israeli friend, the right variety of chickpeas play the leading role. Latin American chickpeas are better for soups and salads because they are larger, firmer, and stay whole when cooked. The best for hummus are pea-size chickpeas known as Baladi in Israel. They become soft and easily smashed between fingers when cooked. Unfortunately, in the United States, all chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) are labeled the same, unless you shop for them at ethnic stores. And even if you make a trip to an ethnic grocery store, Indian for example, the chickpea names will be specific to Indian cuisine — larger Kabuli and smaller Desi aka chana dhal. Choosing the right chickpeas variety is not really an option for an average grocery shopper who craves for amazing hummus. What is the option then?
This casserole is a celebration of vegetables! Look at the list of ingredients. Their variety is stunning! That’s why the complexity of this dish flavors conquers the taste buds of vegetarians and carnivores alike. Just like any other layered dish, benefits from being cooked in advance, set in a refrigerator for a few hours and reheated portioned right before serving. It helps to develop flavors and keep colorful layers presentable.
Edamame has a slightly sweet, mild, fresh herbal flavor and nutty texture, with only traces of beany taste. Three years ago edamame “hummus” has been served in every restaurant I visited on Big Island. Healthy and refreshing snack, it was a hit for a reason. Why hummus? Hawaiian chefs created their signature variations playing with additional ingredients and ways to serve it, but based them on the same culinary idea — cooked beans are ground into a thick paste and mixed with vegetable oil, lime juice, and seasoning. Sounds like “hummus,” but with different beans, doesn’t it?
I was convinced acaraje deserve all the efforts and time to make them, when found sources naming them Brazilian falafel. Everybody loves falafel! They are a true find for people who follow gluten-free diet, but crave for spongy wheat bread texture. Acaraje’s texture is exactly as it looks on the picture — light and fluffy, doughnut-like.
This recipe is vegetarian. To make it vegan replace Ghee (clarified butter) with vegetable oil of your choice, and cow milk yogurt with coconut milk yogurt. A wonderful combination of Indian spices make this dish highly flavorful, and chili peppers make it hot. You can adjust the level of spiciness and heat to your taste. When Eastern Europeans see this recipe, they call it Indian golubtsy and ask me what can be used instead of chickpea flour which is not easily available there. I don’t see any harm in experimenting with other locally available gluten free flours (buckwheat, oat, etc.), spices, and flavorful herbs and vegetables.
It was during my vacation on Hawaii Big Island, on the farmers market in Hilo. I stopped at Ratana’s food trailer and watched her making salads. Seeing the process and being exposed to all the aromas coming from her mortar made me hungry and curious. I tasted her Som Tam and… became an addict. How this famous Thai salad had escaped my attention before? What else was I missing in Thai food?
For a long time, I was not a big fan of beans. I didn’t like either cooking or eating them until I tried marinated with pesto giant Lima beans once. They were relatively expensive, so I decided to learn to make them at home. Eventually, I discovered a no-hustle way of cooking legumes in my Crock-Pot. Later, I’ve got an Instant Pot, and the process became even easier and faster. I keep strained beans in a covered container refrigerated for up to 4 days and use them for soups, salads, stir-fries, snacks, etc. Isn’t it convenient for a busy home cook? Dry Lima beans absorb a lot of water when cooking, so a cup of dry beans (~8 oz) becomes 3 cups of cooked beans. Follow the link for instructions on how to cook giant Lima beans using slow or pressure cookers without presoak.