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Everything you need to know about Msabbha (plus Recipes)

Recently, more and more people ask me about Msabbcha, after hearing of it’s divine nature. Some, after trying it for themselves, usually devastated of how good it is. This sister-of-hummus dish is certainly the best invention since hummus – or is it the other way around?

The hardest part with Msabecha (Arabic: مسَبّحة, Hebrew: מסבחה) is probably the pronunciation part. No… when come to think of it, the greater challenge is spelling the name of the damn dish. Mmm… Pardon my French, this DIVINE dish.

Should it be Masubha? Or maybe Msabbaha or Msabcha?

Know what? Forget about the spelling. Realize that: It’s a dish, somewhat similar to hummus, which when properly made is even better…

New kind of hummus?

“What is Mesabbcha” and “How do I make Mesabha” are two questions I’ve been asked very often, by people in all different stages of developing a hummus-addiction.

In some point, they find out about this sister-of-hummus dish, realizing there’s a whole new world of tastes and textures they have until then missed. In no time, they would ask the “So where can I eat the best Msabbeha” question.

Ironically, Israelis and other non-Arab speaking people, mispronounce it’s name. Arabs, argue over the right ethymology – is it “Mussabbehhaaaaaa” (“suits for the morning”) or is it Msabbcha (“swimming-in…”. In olive oil, lemon juice, etc.).

There are different schools. Some make it lighter, more delicate, weaker in flavor. Some make it spicier, even hot. No one knows when it was invented and by whom, or where it comes from, but many people will go a long way – literally – just to be able to eat their favorite Mesabha, around the corner or on the other side of a country.

So what IS Mesabbha?

Masabha is made from very similar ingredients to those used in hummus, but it’s completely different in texture and in taste. The chickpeas are cooked until they’re really really soft, then mixed with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and spices. Usually a bit of pre-made hummus is also added.

Ideally, the soft peas should melt in your mouth, while the tahini and olive oil linger over your chin, onto your shirt. When made right it’s no less than sensational.


My msabbha

Being so simple to make, it’s hard to realize how come no one has been able to imitate the success of Abu Hassan’s mesabbeha. This simple place from Jaffa is famous all over the middle-east, and is known by people from all over the world. Millions of people ate there’s, and came back to tell of it’s great hummus and about the fact that the masabha is even better.So there’s certainly a secret here, but this doesn’t mean you can’t make a very tasty mesabbeha all by yourself.

Recipe 1: Real Meshabha

(harder to make, tastes better)

Ingredients + Preparation
[two servings]

1. 1/2-1/3 cup hummus made according to our real hummus recipe.
2. About 2 cups of fully-cooked chickpeas. Like in the hummus recipe, only much softer. They should be hot, almost steaming.
3. About 1 cup of pre-prepared tahini lightly spiced, without parsley and garlic. use this recipe.
4. Mix gently with the hummus and the chickpeas in a large bowl.
5. About 1/4 cup olive oil. Pour all over.
6. A few chopped parsley branches. Scatter.
7. Some salt, paprika, fleshly minced garlic (and/or semi-hot pepper). Ditto.
8. Eat!

Note: Quantities should slightly change, depending on the exact choice of ingredients. If the tahini is relatively dark or the olive oil is one with a more distinctive taste, put less of those ingredients.

Recipe 2: Faked Meshabha

(10 minute version, not as tasty)

Like in recipe 1, except:
A. Use canned chickpeas to make the hummus. Wash them well before you do.
B. Use canned chickpeas instead of the fully-cooked ones. Wash well, then microwave with a little water until it’s very soft.

7 Comments on Everything you need to know about Msabbha (plus Recipes)

  1. I tried the recipe, I liked it.
    I was searching for this recipe on the net since a day, finally found it on your site. Thanks for posting it.

  2. Hi everyone!!!!
    As a kid i lived in israel on a kibbutz for 7 years.
    that video was great!! {it wet my appetite
    we make hummus at home all the time.
    hummus is a amazing food {you can live on it!!

    BE WELL!!!
    rainer. susan. kim

  3. Peter Andreae // April 20, 2009 at 3:39 pm // Reply

    Have you seen Paula Wolfert’s recipe for Meshabha in Mediterranean Grains and Greens? I have been making it for years, never having seen another version (I live in the Southern US). Noteworthy differences are no hummus in the dressing of the whole chickpeas and perhaps more garlic and parsley. She doesn’t emphasize cooking the chickpeas to extreme tenderness, although there is a mention of five hours of cooking in the introduction to the recipe. She also suggests that the authentic dish would use small black chickpeas, peeled. Speaking from experience, that peeling step is non-trivial. I only tried it once.

    Happy eating,

  4. Mesabbeha was a new one on me! Now I know what to do with the extra boiled chickpeas left over when I make hummus and still haven’t had enough tahini… 🙂

  5. The 2 cups of fully cooked chickpeas, should that be 2 cups dry or 2 cups after soaking?

  6. I’ve never had meshabha nor heard of it until now, but it sure sounds good!

  7. Thanks for this great post! I put a link to it on my blogpost about my culinary trip to Israel where I fell in love with Msabbaha 😉

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