@GRMAGAZINE: Southeast Neighborhood Joints

(Grand Rapids, MI) — By now, you should have received your July 2013 "City Guide" issue of Grand Rapids Magazine, and like every month before, quickly devoured the contents. Our regular column explored the neighborhood joints in the southeast quadrant of our fair city. Though it isn't necessarily a well-established fixture, Shiraz Grill sparked our passion for Mediterranean cuisine, particularly hummus. SheFed cracked open her recipe database to share this culinary delight you can make at home...

She Fed:

Having lived in Kentwood for more than seven years before moving downtown, Jeremy and I explored many of the eateries in the area. In fact, selecting just four was a bit tough. Our most recent adventure in the “Southeast Quadrant” of Grand Rapids, using US-131 and I-96 as our dividing lines, was at Shiraz on Breton just north of 28th Street. The Persian food and attentive service got a big thumbs up from us and the belly-dancing provided unique entertainment. (Actually the other diners reaction to the belly-dancing was most entertaining.)

In that post I referenced a homemade hummus recipe I use quite a bit. It first appeared in the May 2008 issue of Food & Wine; I remember ripping the page out and vowing to try it that weekend. Since then, I’ve tweaked it slightly for my tastes. It takes more time than buying a tub at CostCo, but the results are worth it. Whenever I set this out for company it gets rave reviews.

1/2 pound dried chickpeas
1 tablespoon baking soda
7 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup tahini, at room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Pita bread, for serving

Start with dried chickpeas, which you do need to soak the night before. This might be a deal-breaker for most of us, but I encourage you to give it a try at least once. All you need to do is dump the dried chickpeas in a bowl of cold water, just so they’re covered, stir in the baking soda, then set them in the fridge overnight. Pretty low maintenance, right? (And yes, you can skip the soaking and cooking of the chickpeas and use canned to save a little time, but try it with the dried peas just once and tell me the flavor isn’t worth it.)

The next day, drain and rinse the chickpeas. Toss them into a medium saucepan, add just enough water to cover them again, add garlic cloves then boil. Reduce heat to simmer for about half an hour until chickpeas are fork tender. Drain again but hold back about 1/2 cup of the water and about 2 tbsp of the chickpeas. Rinse the rest with cold water and peel the garlic cloves. In a food processor, whip up the bulk of the chickpeas, all but 2 tbsp of the water you held back, 6 of the garlic cloves (leaving 1 behind), and a 1/4 cup olive oil. As you go, add 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup tahini, and cumin, whipping until smooth. Sprinkle a bit of salt in at the end, as you like, then scoop everything out into a serving bowl.

Finally, add the remaining olive oil, water, lemon juice, garlic, and tahini to the food processor and give it a spin until thoroughly pureed. Scoop this out and drizzle it onto the contents of the serving bowl. Sprinkle with extra cumin, paprika, the rest of the whole chickpeas, and parsley. Grab some pita bread (preferably warmed in the oven beforehand) and dig in!

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