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Dips, Preserves & Sauces – Part 2


Fava Bean & Mint Hummus

This summery hummus, made with freshly shelled fava beans flavored with chopped fresh herbs and lemon juice, is delicious on warm pita bread.

PREP : 20 minutes
COOK : 10 minutes

  • 2⅓ cups shelled fava beans
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ cup torn fresh mint leaves
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup Greek-style plain yogurt
  • pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • To serve
  • 1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
  • 4 celery stalks, cut into strips
  • ½ cucumber, halved, seeded, and cut into strips
  • 4 whole wheat pita breads
  1. Fill the bottom of a steamer halfway with water, bring to a boil, then put the beans in the steamer top, cover with a lid, and steam for 10 minutes, or until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin, scallions, and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, or until the scallions are softened.
  3. Put the beans in a food processor, add the scallion mixture, mint, parsley, lemon juice, yogurt, salt, and pepper. Process to a coarse puree, then spoon into a dish set on a large plate.
  4. Arrange the vegetable strips around the hummus and serve with the pitas.

Cook’s tip : You will need to buy 1½–1¾ pounds fava beans in their pods and shell them.


Hummus with Garlic Toasts

This makes a perfect quick-and-easy lunch served with pita breads and is delicious as an accompaniment for a spread of Middle Eastern salads.

PREP : 10 minutes
COOK : 3 minutes

  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas in water, drained with a little of the liquid reserved
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • ⅓ cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons Kalamata olives, pitted, to garnish
  • Ciabatta toasts
  • 1 ciabatta loaf, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  1. Put the chickpeas and a little of their reserved liquid in a food processor and process, gradually adding more of the reserved liquid and the lemon juice until you have the consistency you desire. Process well after each addition until smooth.
  2. Stir in the tahini and all but 1 teaspoon of the oil. Add the garlic, season with the salt and pepper, and process again until smooth.
  3. Spoon the hummus into a serving dish. Drizzle the remaining oil over the top and garnish with the cilantro and olives. Cover and chill in the refrigerator while preparing the ciabatta toasts.
  4. Preheat the broiler to medium–high. Lay the ciabatta on the grill rack in a single layer. Mix the garlic, cilantro, and oil together and drizzle the flavored oil over the bread. Cook for 2–3 minutes, or until golden brown, turning once. Serve hot with the hummus.



This Syrian red bell pepper-and-walnut dip is popular throughout the Levant. It’s somewhere between a thick hummus and an Italian pesto in texture. It’s delicious scooped up with hot, crisp pita breads.

PREP : 25 minutes

  • 3 red bell peppers
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ⅔ cup fresh bread crumbs or ⅓ cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  1. Preheat the broiler to medium–high and remove the grill rack. Line the grill pan with aluminum foil. Put the red bell peppers in the lined pan and broil 2 inches away from the heat source for 1 hour, or until blackened, turning occasionally.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Transfer the hot bell peppers to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for 10 minutes to help steam off the skins.
  3. Meanwhile, sprinkle the walnuts and bread crumbs on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Check them regularly, because they burn easily. Let cool to room temperature.
  4. Peel the skins off the bell peppers and remove and discard the stems and seeds while retaining the juices. Put the bell peppers, walnuts, bread crumbs, pomegranate molasses, salt, oil, lemon juice, and crushed red pepper flakes into a food processor and process until smooth. Spoon into a bowl and serve as a dip.

Cook’s tip : We all have an individual preference for balance of saltiness, sweetness, acidity, and bitterness. Taste the Muhammara once blended, then adjust the consistency and taste with more olive oil, lemon juice, or salt, as required.


Spiced Beet & Cucumber Cacik

This fresh, spiced yogurt dip is great served in little lettuce leaves as an appetizer or as a dip to go with vegetable sticks.

PREP : 20 minutes

  • 2 cooked beets in natural juices, drained and cut into cubes
  • ½ cucumber, cut into small cubes
  • ⅓ cup small radish cubes
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • 12 Boston, Bibb, or other small butterhead lettuce leaves
  • Dip
  • ⅔ cup low-fat Greek-style plain yogurt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper
  1. For the dip, put the yogurt, cumin, and honey into a large bowl. Stir in the mint and season with the salt and pepper.
  2. Add the beets, cucumber, radishes, and scallion, then toss.
  3. Arrange the lettuce leaves on a plate. Spoon a little of the salad into each leaf. Serve immediately.

Cook’s tip : When spooning honey, heat the metal spoon so that the honey comes off more easily.


Rose Harissa

Homemade harissa is fresher and more vibrant than a store-bought version (if you can find it), and you can control the amount of chile, oil, and seasoning you include.

PREP : 15 minutes
COOK : 3 minutes

  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 8 red chiles, coarsely chopped
  • ½ large red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon rosewater
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes, plus a pinch
  • 2 tablespoons dried rose petals
  1. Heat a small skillet over low heat. Add the cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds and toast for 2–3 minutes, or until aromatic. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and crush to a powder.
  2. Put the chiles, including the seeds, the red bell pepper, garlic, rosewater, oil, 2 teaspoons of salt, the spice powder, and half the rose petals into a blender and process until they form a paste with the consistency of homemade pesto; it should not be completely smooth. Stir in the remaining rose petals and season with a pinch of salt.
  3.  You can store the harissa, covered, in the refrigerator for three or four days.

Cook’s tip : If you prefer a thicker harissa paste, reduce the amount of oil by half. If you prefer a more saucelike consistency, drizzle in more oil and adjust the seasoning accordingly. You can increase or decrease the number of chiles to taste.


Baba Ghanouj

This popular Levantine eggplant dip is incredibly easy to make and is a perfect complement to freshly made pita breads. This is the Egyptian version, made with tahini and lemon juice. Other versions include slowly fried onions and tomatoes.

PREP : 15 minutes

  • 1 extra-large eggplant
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons tahini
  • large pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)
  • 8 pita breads, to serve (optional)
  • ½ cucumber, cut into sticks, to serve (optional)
  1. Preheat the broiler to medium–high and remove the grill rack. Prick the eggplant all over using a fork, put it into the grill pan, and broil 2 inches away from the heat source for 30 minutes on each side, or until soft and blackened all over and almost falling apart. Let cool.
  2. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and scoop the soft flesh away from the blackened skin and into a bowl, using a large spoon. Discard the skin. Mash the flesh using a fork, then stir in the lemon juice, garlic, tahini, salt, and 1 tablespoon of oil.
  3. Spoon the dip into a serving bowl, then drizzle with the remaining oil and sprinkle with the parsley, if using. Serve with pita breads and cucumber sticks, if using.

Cook’s tip : It’s always a good idea to taste food just before serving and adjust the balance of flavorings, if you desire. You may want to add a little more lemon juice, sea salt, or garlic to this dip.

Authentic dishes from the Middle East

Rukmini Lyer