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White-Bean Messabecha

Recipes

Messabecha is like the Israeli version of hummus, and this recipe – from a new cookbook capturing the flavours of Tel Aviv – is made with white beans, tahini and lemon juice.

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Restaurateur Haya Molcho (owner of the NENI chain of Israeli and Middle Eastern-inspired restaurants across Europe) revisited her home town with her four sons to create the new cookbook Tel Aviv: A Culinary Journey with NENI.

The book introduces local “chefs and storytellers”, as well as sharing recipes for 150 dishes – from green shakshuka to Israeli paella – all of which were prepared in Tel Aviv using ingredients from local markets.

White-Bean Messabecha

For 4–6 people as an appetiser

Ingredients

400g dried white beans
2 small onions
3 sprigs sage
50 ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Sea salt
1 tablespoon unhulled tahini
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 acri sivri (cayenne) pepper
Pita bread, to serve
Sumac, to garnish

Method

Soak beans overnight in three times as much water as beans. The next day, pour through a strainer, wash under cold water and drain.

Peel onions. Bring beans to the boil in a large pan with 3 litres of water, onions, sage and olive oil, and cook for 1½ hours. Then add 1 tablespoon of salt and continue cooking until the beans are very soft, about 1 more hour. Add a bit more water as needed.

When the beans are done, strain them, saving the cooking water, and allow to cool.

Using a blender or a stick blender, briefly whizz 420g of the beans together with the tahini and lemon juice; small pieces should still be visible. Blend in a bit of cooking water as needed. Season to taste with salt.

Deseed the sivri/cayenne pepper and finely dice. Toast the bread until dark brown. Spread the bean paste on plates.

Arrange the remaining beans and the diced sivri/cayenne on top, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sumac. Serve with the bread.

Haya’s tip: You can also cook the beans in a pressure cooker, which reduces the cooking time to 45 minutes.

Images and recipes from Tel Aviv by Neni, photography by Nuriel Molcho, published by Murdoch Books, RRP $49.99.

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