This summer, armchair and tabletop traveling are the safest ways to explore the world. I’m fortunate enough to live in Tel Aviv, close to a hummus restaurant that is helping me do just that while staying, and eating, local.

In Israel, a restaurant that serves hummus as the main meal is known as a hummusiah. A traditional hummusiah offers its diners a few simple, yet delicious ways to order the dish. There’s the basic plate of hummus, with chickpeas and tahini making up the main ingredients. This can be eaten on its own, usually topped with olive oil or tahini and extra spices, or with stewed fava beans (ful) or whole chickpeas. I like to pile on spicy Yemenite paste (schug) or the hot peppers it is served with, as well as lemon juice.

Hummus must be boring if you need to add so much to it, right?

Balkan-inspired hummus

That was Elad Shore’s mentality when he decided to disrupt the hummus scene entirely and add tastes of other cultures to this very Middle Eastern dish. Rather than having his guests add schug or lemon juice, Elad wanted to serve something that was already full of flavor by the time it arrived at the table.

Elad is the next in line to run Shlomo and Doron, a hummusiah situated in the heart of the Yemenite Quarter next to Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market since 1937. Although today it is known as Hummus Shlomo and Doron, it only started serving hummus once Doron, Elad’s father, took over (Shlomo is Doron’s father). Before hummus was on the menu, the family-run business focused on serving ful, a stewed fava bean dish that is a staple in Egypt. With each generation, the restaurant has evolved while staying true to its roots.

As an artist and musician who was groomed to inherit the family business, Elad sees hummus as the canvas with which he was born. In his food exploration, Elad has come across ingredients that he loves, and although they are not all typically found in a hummusiah, he saw their potential for taking his hummus to the next level.

In thinking outside of the hummus bowl and borrowing inspiration from other kitchens and cultures, Elad allows his guests to momentarily jet around the world in just a few bites. His menu additions include Balkan, Mexican and Tandoori hummus, with unexpected ingredients like kalamata olives, tortilla chips and lentils joining the list of appropriate foods to put on top of your hummus.

Mexican-inspired hummus

Unlike spreads called hummus but made of red peppers, beets or edamame (hummus, by the way, means chickpea in Arabic and Hebrew), Elad’s creations stay true to the original dish. He uses the family’s traditional chickpea hummus recipe as the base, and from there, he adds whole ingredients to create what he calls chickpea art.

Until world travel is permitted and as long as Shlomo and Doron continue to deliver their food, I will be tabletop traveling with the help of inventive hummus.

While nothing compares to Elad’s hummus, until you can take a trip to Israel, I recommend whipping up hummus at home or even opening a package of store-bought hummus and experimenting by topping it with your favorite foods inspired by the places you’re longing to visit. You can do beans and salsa, ratatouille, eggplant caponata and so much more. Let us know what delicious combinations you whip up by commenting below!

Top photo: Shlomo and Doron’s tandoori hummus (Photos courtesy of Hummus Shlomo and Doron)