On our first trip to Portugal, my father and I were meandering the streets of Lisbon when we stumbled upon Pois, Café, a bustling, slightly hipsterish restaurant that looked like the perfect place to refuel for our sightseeing. I ordered a Middle Eastern-inspired platter with carrot and cucumber salads, meatballs, fresh greens, roasted tomatoes, and an intriguing hummus which had a particular flavor I had never picked up on in hummus before. It took me a moment to figure out that the secret ingredient must be sesame oil, which made so much sense to me when I thought about how tahini-- ground sesame seeds-- is a standard ingredient in most hummus recipes.
Of all the wonderful pastries and luscious sheep cheeses and lovely pork dishes I ate on that trip, the hummus was the one thing I couldn't stop thinking about, so naturally I tried to replicate it as soon as I got home. There isn't a lot of sesame oil in the recipe, but it is one of those ingredients that can easily get out of hand, becoming bitter and unpleasant, so I aimed to use just enough to be interesting but not overpowering.
The cilantro salsa was born from a surplus of cilantro and is one of my favorite ways to use dried aleppo peppers, which are more flavorful than hot. I find that cayenne powder varies so much in intensity that I recommend starting with just a pinch and adding more to taste. —vvvanessa
about 2 1/2 cups
cooked chickpeas, either homemade or a 15 1/2-ounce can
clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
tahini or almond butter
toasted sesame oil
freshly squeezed lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil
(or more) warm water
fresh cilantro leaves (stems removed), about 1 packed cup
To make the hummus, combine all the ingredients except the water in a food processor and blend for a few seconds to bring them together. Add the water a tablespoon at a time, continuing to blend the hummus, until you reach the consistency you like. I add about 1/4 cup of water total because I like a lighter, looser texture. Adjust seasonings to taste.
To make the cilantro sauce, blend all the ingredients in a food processor until it looks like a sauce. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve on top of or alongside the hummus.