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Abu Hassan, the glorious Jaffa’s hummus

Jaffa, an ancient town with a glorious history, turned into a unique culinary gem. Packed with gourmet restaurants and boutique eateries, yet many flock to Jaffa for one reason: Abu Hassan’s hummus.

first published 13 February 2007. last update: 17 September 2015

Jaffa is a city of contrasts. On one hand, it has a charged historical background. On the other, it’s usually a peaceful, friendly, hospitable place, which is sometimes beautiful in ways the younger sister Tel-Aviv could never be.

 The original Hummus Abu Hassan, Ha-Dolphin st. JaffaIn Jaffa you can find, side by side, luxurious mansions and neglected old buildings. Gourmet restaurants and fancy tourist traps along side ultra-cheap eateries. Wretchedness and glory, in an impossible mixture. And a lot of hummus.

In the past we used to say that nobody knows how many hummus places are there in Jaffa. In the past decade it changes a little, because some places were closed and not many new opened. However, there are still many distinguished hummus places in Jaffa – Abu El-Abed, Dani Ful, Abu Maruan, Merkaz Ha-Hummus Ha-Asli, to name a few.

And there is, of course, Abu Hassan, which warrants a category of its own.

Abu Hassan’s Hummus (Mussabeha actually)In most hummus eateries in Jaffa the hummus is something between decent and excellent.

Clients are greeted with a big smile and sometimes the host even knows their names, and see that they are served black coffee or tea with nana (mint) and baklava at the end of the meal, on the house.

Abu Hassan serves hummus, with or without ful (fava been casserole), massabha or a “Triplet”, which is a combination of the three.

It takes seconds for the plate to reach the table and minutes till the meal is finished. Than you get up and leave, so that others could enjoy this heavenly food. No coffee, no baklava, nobody remembers your name.

Not everyone appreciate this style, but many do. Hundreds a day, maybe thouthands.

Abu Hassan’s secret

Hassan is a second-generation hummus maker. The recipe is his mother’s, and the business is called after his father (Abu = the father of) who was also known by the name Ali Caravan. Back in the late 50’s, he used to sell hummus and mussabeha on the streets of Ajami (a small and poor neighborhood near the sea) walking around with a hand wagon.

When we asked Hassan, he said there was no “secret” to his hummus “it is very standard, he said”. Yet, the people who flock to his restaurant from all over will disagree: no hummus tastes like his, so there must be a secret.

The view from Abu Hassan's hummusPart of the secret, of course, is the reputation. Many people gather in line, some will end up with a plastic plate, a smile on their face, happily wiping hummus while sitting on the fence overlooking the beach. This is how happy people look like.

And the most important tip: the real gem at Abu Hassan’s is the Mussabeha not the hummus. If you want a taste from the hummus and the mussabeha (and you do) you can order a plate of hummus-mussabeha which has both. If you want to taste the ful as well, ask for meshuleshet (“Triplet”).


12 Comments on Abu Hassan, the glorious Jaffa’s hummus

  1. What’s the red and yellow stuff on the hummus?

  2. the red is paprika
    the yellow just seems to be the glare off the olive oil

    both add some nice flavour to the humus

    if you ever go there, get it with ‘ful’ (fava beans)… they make it delicious

  3. Shooky – please email me – I need to achieve a hummus as close to abu hassan as possible – i need your help

    over the last few years I’ve eaten at abu hassan a lot when i am in Israel. his hummus is really our of this world. some people say he adds eggs to the pot of hummus? any idea how they get the texture? to they pass the hummus though a tammy or sieve “messanen dak me’od”???




  5. Very true, also, it’s not just the flavor but the texture as well which compliments the first one very well.

  6. Make some yourself, you can buy the dry pies in a spice shop and thini in a health store or ethnic section of your mega-mart.
    The stuff exported to europe and usa by tzabar and other companies tastes like shit,just like the stuff sold in supermarkets here. They substilute most of the thini with oil and use additives to inhance texture after its degraded.
    Also a high dose of preservative (pot. sorbate) is used to extend shelf life.

    On another note,
    Im a krayot guy and love eating at Saiid.
    I cant understand how the humus in abu hassan is served without fresh vegies!
    The real plessure is whiping humus with a piece of onion or a ripe tomato.
    I just made some humus today and have left over cooked (unhummused) beans which will be used for tomorows friday lunch 🙂
    Here is my secret: Some humust veriaties cannot be skin pealed by the towel trick before cooking. the skins are very hard to remove during cooking, they dont float.
    I cant imagine straining the cooking water and spending 30 minutes seperating skins.
    SOOOO… I run my hot soft humus through a fine seive.
    This is the secret to fine,not grainy hummus (like the one in saiiid).

  7. No such thing as “authentic israeli” Hummus.
    Hummus was adopted by the immigrant jews, basically like everything else. Falafel, Baklawa, Music, shawarma etc etc etc.

  8. Go to an arab store since hummus isn’t authentically israeli

  9. Best hummus ever

  10. In case canaan and shamouti didn’t notice, most of the places recommended here ARE Arab places.

    As for “authentic” hummus, it depends on the recipe and the ingredients, not the ethnicity of the cook.

  11. Authentic Israeli Humous does exist and it is the style of Humous that is made in Israel. Humous originates from the Levant of which Isreal is a part. As a side note, Jews have lived in the Levant for more than 3,000 years, in the areas now known as Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan unlike the Arab invaders who only came to the area from Arabia about 1,400 years ago. So it is actually the Arabs that have adopted this delicious dish 😉

  12. “Authentic Israeli Humous does exist and it is the style of Humous that is made in Israel.”

    I agree with Akiva on this. When something from another culture is adopted, it’s often tweaked, the tweaks become established, and before you know it, you have a variation that becomes an area’s own. Chili is a good example of this. I grew up in Detroit–a MAJOR chili town–and the local chili (served on “Coney Island” hot dogs or “loose burgers” or in a bowl with oyster crackers) bears almost no resemblance to what’s eaten in the southwest and I understand that Cincinnati has its own version which is served on spaghetti! It’s all chili and it’s all authentic in an area-specific way. Regardless of the chefs’ ethnicity, I suspect that the hummus they prepare and serve in Israel has metamorphosed into something that’s a little different than what’s eaten in other parts of the Middle East.

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