Tasty touchdown! In 2013, Sabra hummus joined game-time snacks across the country as the National Football League’s official dip. In case you didn’t know it, the Middle Eastern snack is perfect for football-watching. Now that it’s Super Bowl time, we want to remind you of this touchdown-worth snack to help make your game viewing even more memorable. 

Hut hut hut…it’s football season! Turn on your flatscreen and break out the munchies. But don’t sideline your hungry crowd of game watchers with another jumbo bag of pretzels this year. Go for a touchdown Jewish-style with a hummus bar and homemade pita chips for the extra point. You’ll have them cheering after the first scoop.

I know what you’re thinking. Nice idea. I’ll just run out to the supermarket, pick me up a plastic tub of that gooey stuff and call it a day. Flag thrown. Fifteen-yard penalty. You can do better. If your Bowl party starts after the next commercial break, you can use canned chickpeas and still make a better-than-store-bought hummus. But if you haven’t sent out the Evite just yet, plan to pick up some dried chickpeas to soak overnight and your hummus will be a revelation.

Hummus restaurants and stands are ubiquitous throughout the Middle East. In Israel, heated debates erupt over who makes the best. Is it Hummus Lina in the Christian Quarter of the Old City? Pinati in Jerusalem? Abu Shukri in Abu Ghosh? Ali Karavan-Abu Hassan in Jaffa? We will most assuredly achieve regional peace before we decide.

But hummus lovers agree that that perfection is somewhere between smooth and chunky. Some of the top hummus restaurants use a large mortar and pestle to grind their chickpeas. And while it’s great cold, hummus is traditionally served warm or at room temperature.

Just about every authentic recipe out there uses some combination of dried chickpeas, tahini, lemon, garlic, cumin and salt. Over two days I turned my house into a hummus test kitchen. I boiled pounds of chickpeas (which my husband says smell like buttered popcorn—sorry, sweetie) and tested over a dozen recipes to understand how slight variations change the taste and consistency.

I learned that it’s important to use the smallest chickpeas you can find; ¼ inch or less is great. Typical supermarkets sell an average-sized bean, but you can find smaller ones at Middle Eastern shops and some organic markets. While many recipes omit this step, adding baking soda to the chickpeas as they soak and boil will produce a softer bean and a smoother product. I also learned that fresh hummus lasts about three to five days in the refrigerator, but the flavors mellow considerably over time. If you don’t plan on eating the hummus right away, add extra lemon and garlic.

When the hummus is ready for game time, complete the pass with a topping bar and let your guests make their own hummus creations. Some simple ideas to make yourself or buy at the store include garlic cloves or red peppers roasted and then marinated in olive oil and salt, cilantro and jalapeno pesto, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes and olives, assorted pickled vegetables as in giardiniera, crumbled feta cheese, toasted pine nuts, lemon wedges, white onion slices, fresh chopped herbs like Italian-leaf parsley and cilantro or dried spices like za’atar and smoked paprika. Don’t forget liquid toppings, like a fruity bottle of extra virgin olive oil plus hot sauce and its spicy chili paste cousins, s’hug/zhuk/schug (Yemen) and harissa (Tunisia). Use separate serving bowls, and listen for the oohs and ahhs amidst the cheers when your team scores the winning touchdown.

For chickpeas of every shape and size and some of the freshest hummus in the DC area, check out Yekta Supermarket, a pan-Middle Eastern grocer next to the Persian restaurant of the same name. If you need a few chickpeas and have a long grocery list to boot, march over to Mom’s Organic Market. Pick up your pantry staples and all the farm-raised, cage-free, non-pesticide food your hippy heart could ever desire.

Yekta Supermarket
1488 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852
(301) 984-1190
http://www.yekta.com/

Mom’s Organic Market
Various locations in Maryland and Virginia
http://www.momsorganicmarket.com/