Israel’s Best Hummus: Naji in Abu Ghosh

April 8, 2011

This past week in Israel I stopped in Abu Ghosh, an Arab town a few miles west of Jerusalem off Highway 1.  Abu Ghosh is famous for its hummus.  The Guiness World Record for the largest bowl of hummus was claimed by a chef in the town a few years back. There are several restaurants that advertise on large signs in Arabic, English and Hebrew, “The Original Abu Ghosh Hummus.”  In my experience you can’t go wrong at any of them.

But I had read and heard that the best is Naji.  It is a relatively small place tucked onto a square which doubles as a chaotic (this is Israel) parking lot.  On the same square is Naji’s Butcher Shop, which locals say is the best source for meat in town.

Naji’s Restaurant serves that meat grilled—I watched lamb chops cut as thick as fists go onto the flames.  But the specialty is hummus, which comes in delicate ceramic bowls, topped with warm soft garbanzo beans, olive oil and lemon juice.  This hummus has NOTHING in common with even the best Costco or supermarket brands.  It is soft, melt-in-you-mouth dip, with a texture of clotted cream. 

You can also order their other appetizer salads, all of which are standard-bearers: delicate baba ganouj, cabbage salad with a strong lemon dressing, and a house specialty, roasted squash blended with tahina.

Afterwards, you can walk, full and satisfied, to Abu Ghosh’s Crusader-era monastery.  The grounds are peaceful, the structure among the best preserved in the world.  When we walked in the monks were singing Psalms in the original Hebrew in the cavernous, echoey space.  All in all, a day of religious experiences.

Al Naji Hummus [SLIDESHOW]

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