Thursday, June 6, 2013

Challah and Chummous

Those of you outside of Israel probably associate Chummous, that delicious middle eastern chickpea spread, with Pita.  And you are right that there is no better way to eat Chummous then to "wipe" it (lenagev) with a Pita.  However, in most Israeli homes, along with the Challah that you find on the Shabbat tables you will also find Chummous, and a variety of other spreads including chatzilim (eggplant), matbucha (peppers and tomatoes), schug (hot spicy stuff) together with olives and pickles etc.

In our house this "course" is so holy that if I dare bring the soup too soon, I am accused of rushing the meal.  My family likes to savor this part of the meal especially because the Challot are usually home baked and the Chummous is usually homemade.  When it isn't I get complaints especially from my soldier girl who doesn't even get regular Challah in the army!

My Challah is made with half whole-wheat flour and half white flour.  It's funny we used to always have one white Challah and one whole-wheat Challah at every Shabbat meal and slowly but surely the kids started preferring the whole-wheat (ok the 1/2 whole-wheat).

I only started making homemade Chummous around seven months ago but once I began there was no going back.  All my Chummous eaters except my youngest (aged 10) prefer it.  So that's it.

And now for the recipes:

Half Whole-Wheat Challah


As much as I love cooking, I am quite primitive in the kitchen.  I've never owned a big Kenwood, Kitchenaid,  etc. mixer.  I just have a cute little hand mixer.  So as far as Challah goes I use the mixer part of the time and the rest of the time I mix it by hand.  It comes out great but yes it probably takes me longer. I got my recipe somewhere on the net but I can't remember from where so I apologize for not giving credit.

Here's the recipe:


3 cups warm water (luke warm plus, NOT HOT or you will KILL the yeast. Speaking from experience).
2 pkgs or 4 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 cup honey
2/3 cups canola oil
4 eggs
1 tablespoon salt
6-7 cups whole-wheat flour, sifted
6-7 cups white flour, sifted


Dissolve yeast in water in large bowl.  Add honey and let stand 2 minutes.  Add oil, eggs and salt and mix well. 

Gradually add flour two cups at a time, mixing after each addition. Knead well for approximately 8 minutes. Dough should be pliable not sticky.

Let rise in a bowl covered with a towel for at least an hour, dough should double in size.  Punch down and separate Challah (a religious custom) without a blessing.  Shape into 4-5 small loaves (braid, etc.).  Let rise again for around another hour until doubled in size.

Brush with egg and sprinkle with seeds as desired.

Bake at 350 F (180 C) for 35-40 minutes.

Remove from pans and cool.


I sometimes take the train to and from work and they have a book sale stand at the train station.  One of my favorite things is to read cookbooks but I rarely ever buy them anymore as I love to look up recipes on the net.  One day, I saw this great cookbook in Hebrew called The Healthy Kitchen or HaMitbach HaBari shel Al HaShulchan. To say I fell in love, is an understatement! Finally, a cookbook that is chock-full of the types of recipes that I want to make.  It has everything in it from spreads, salads, soups, appetizers, main courses to desserts and more all made with wholesome and healthy ingredients.

This is the Chummous recipe from the book that I use almost every week:

Ingredients(Makes about 1 kilo/2.2 pounds of Chummous)

1/2 kilo (approx. 1 pound) dried chickpeas, preferably the smaller ones, soaked overnight in water with a tiny bit of added baking soda. 
1/2 cup raw tachina (tahini)
Juice squeezed from 1 lemon
2-3 large garlic cloves
salt and cumin according to taste


Soak chickpeas as above.  Drain water and cook chickpeas in new water also with added baking soda for approximately two hours until soft.  DO NOT ADD SALT! This will block the chickpeas from absorbing water and not allow for softening.

Drain chickpeas and save cooking water.

Put the chickpeas and the rest of the ingredients in the food processor gradually adding cooking water until the Chummous reaches your desired consistency.  We like it pasty! Some like it more runny.  You decide.

Spread on Challah and Pita, etc. 


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