A tasty traditional snack from the Holy Land
The Samaritans are likely best known in the Western world for one person—the famous “Good Samaritan” of Jesus’s parable found in Luke 10:25–37. This character comes from a rich culture—still thriving today—that traces its descent back to the northern Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, as well as to the tribe of Levi.
Mentioned several times in the Hebrew Bible, the Samaritans helped finance the restoration of the First Temple under King Josiah (2 Chronicles 34:9). However, with the return from exile and the rebuilding of the Temple (Ezra 4), Samaritan assistance was offered but turned away—the returning Jews questioned the Samaritans’ claim to Jewish descent and the syncretic elements of their religion. This cultural break lasted well into the time of the Second Temple and played a role in Jesus’s parables and ministry.
Although the Samaritans describe themselves as worshipers of the same God as the Jewish people, and their religion (Samaritanism) is closely related to Judaism, they do not use all of the same scriptures. Whereas Jews use the Hebrew Bible (consisting of the Pentateuch, Writings, and Prophets), equivalent to the Old Testament for many Christians, Samaritans use only the Pentateuch (first five books of the Hebrew Bible) with some slight differences. The Samaritans believe that their Pentateuch is the true, unchanged version that God presented to Moses. According to Samaritan tradition, the break between the Samaritans and the Jews happened during the time of the high priest Eli in the 11th century B.C.E. when a jealous Eli took the priesthood away from the rightful high priest and led a remnant (mostly from Judah and Benjamin) to worship in Jerusalem, away from the Samaritan sanctuary at Mt. Gerizim near Shechem. For early Jews, this break happened much later, in the eighth century B.C.E., when the Assyrian empire conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel, expelled much of the Israelite population, and resettled newcomers on the land (2 Kings 17:24–41).
To this day, the Samaritans continue to worship God, as prescribed by their holy texts, at their temple on Mt. Gerizim. They practice their festivals, many of which are recognizable to us from Jewish traditions, such as Passover and Sukkot. The Samaritans, much like their Jewish neighbors, have thousands of years of unique culture and history that color their recipes and perspectives. The recipe below is unique for Test Kitchen, as it is not from an ancient source but rather from a modern cookbook that has collected traditional recipes from the Samaritan community, recipes that are “delivered by our ancient forefathers … all of them an expression of over 3,000 years of Israelite history.”1
The most time-consuming step in this hummus recipe is cooking the chickpeas. There are two methods to cook dried chickpeas—the long method (which involves allowing them to soak in water overnight) or the quick method. For the quick method, first soak the chickpeas in several inches of water (about 5–6 in), boil for 5 minutes, and then set aside for at least 1 hour. After this, bring the chickpeas to a boil again, then reduce heat to simmer, slightly covered, for about 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you could use canned chickpeas.
Samaritan hummus is a delicious snack best enjoyed with pita or na’an. It is delightful by itself, but to spice things up a bit, we deviated from tradition and added parsley, oregano, and Peri Peri sauce, all to personal preference. This recipe makes a generous portion, so be prepared to share with friends and family!
1. Benyamim Tsedaka, Samaritan Cookbook: A Culinary Odyssey from the Ancient Israelites to the Modern Mediterranean, Ben Piven and Avishay Zelmanovich, eds. (Eugene: Wipf Stock, 2020), p. 123. Recipes from Batia bat Yefet Tsedaka and Zippora Sassoni Tsedaka.
2. Adapted from Tsedaka, Samaritan Cookbook, p. 39
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