On the hunt for hummus in the Santa Clarita Valley

Man'oushee Mediterranean Bakery and Cafe serves hummus with a garnish of olive oil and paprika. May 11, 2021. Bobby Block / The Signal.

The origin story of hummus, like much that was shared with us from the ancient world, is not 100% clear. The Western word we use loosely translates to the Arabic term for “chickpea,” a main ingredient, and the first recorded mentions come from a 13th century cookbook, according to the Library of Arabic Literature.

As recently as 2008, the “Hummus Wars” were sparked after Lebanon accused Israel of appropriating the dish Lebanon claimed was created there, according to a story on BBC.com, which noted the former nation even unsuccessfully appealed its case to the European Union. 

However, what’s clear now is that hummus is a staple of the Mediterranean diet, and one that’s enthusiastically enjoyed throughout the world.

Made fresh locally

Dozens of varieties of this Middle Eastern dish are available at supermarkets across the country, and in the Santa Clarita Valley, fresh hummus is served at several restaurants.

One of them is Man’ousheé Mediterranean Bakery and Café in Canyon County. Maral Sabounjian owns and operates the Lebanese café, which opened in 2008.

Her entire menu is vegan and vegetarian, including hummus. 

“We soak the chickpeas beans overnight. Drain and rinse and cook them in a pressure cooker until they are beyond tender,” Sabounjian said.

That’s followed by puréeing the cooked chickpeas in a commercial grade food processor.

“The chickpea purée is then blended with the highest quality Lebanese tahini, ice cold filtered water, fresh garlic and spices. That’s it,” she said.

Tahini is a sesame seed purée and Sabounjian said “getting your hands on the best quality tahini you can find is one of the secrets of great hummus. And don’t be shy with it.”  

The hummus at Man’ousheé is made fresh from scratch every day. And hummus is something of a tradition for Sabounjian’s family.

“My Palestinian-Armenian father taught me how to make hummus,” she said. “He would smash the chickpeas with his hands, mix everything together by hand.”

That tradition of handmade hummus extends to the way the hummus is presented too. Sabounjian said her father never served hummus unadorned and neither does she.

“It was always swirled on a plate or bowl with the backside of a spoon, drizzled with Lebanese extra virgin olive oil, speckled with spices,” she said. “He taught me how to prepare hummus, and present it that way.  So that’s how we serve ours, even the tiny two-ounce containers.”

Where to enjoy

Hummus is often enjoyed with pita bread and served with many menu items and separately at Man’ousheé.

“It’s that labor of love, attention to detail, family recipe and decades of experience that makes our hummus special,” Sabounjian said.

That family recipe, however, is proprietary – as with the recipes for many great dishes.

Hummus options are many in the Santa Clarita Valley and different restaurants may prepare and serve their hummus differently.

At Newhall Refinery on Main Street in Newhall, the hummus is a baba ganoush, or roasted eggplants, with seasonal vegetables and crispy naan bread.

Gyromania serves hummus as a topping for gyro plates and wraps at its two Santa Clarita locations. Tahini, an ingredient in hummus, is also an available topping.

Persia Catering, which operated as Persia Lounge in Newhall until 2019, offers their hummus with a variety of Middle Eastern favorites like kebab. Their hummus includes chickpeas, tahini, garlic and olive oil, as well as lemon.

Travel Santa Clarita’s hummus trail! Here are the places to visit to get hummus in the Santa Clarita Valley:

Man’ousheé Mediterranean Bakery and Café is located at 27131 Sierra Highway, Canyon Country, CA 91351. They can be reached by phone at (661) 251-6666 or online at manoushee.net.

Newhall Refinery is located at 24254 Main Street, Santa Clarita. They can be reached by phone at (661) 388-4477 or online at newhallrefinery.com.

Gyromania has two locations in Santa Clarita Valley. They are at 20655 Soledad Canyon Road, Santa Clarita, CA 91351 and 25884 The Old Road, Stevenson Ranch. They can be contacted online at gyromania.com.

Flame and Skewers, originally from Bakersfield, has one location in Santa Clarita at 25870 McBean Parkway. They are online at flameandskewers.com and can be reached by phone at (661) 799-7535.

Kebab Grill is located 18517 Soledad Canyon Road, Santa Clarita. They can be reached online via their Facebook page, facebook.com/KebabGrillSCV or by phone at (661) 252-6700.

Kebab House is located in the Westfield Valencia Town Center. They can be reached online via Facebook at facebook.com/kebab
housevalencia or by phone at (661) 799-5844.

Oliver Terrace Bar and Grill is located 28261 Newhall Ranch Road, Santa Clarita. They can be reached by phone at (661) 257-7860 or online at oliveterracebarandgrill.com,

Sam’s Flaming Grill has three locations in Valencia and one in Canyon Country within the Santa Clarita Valley. For more their locations and contact information, visit samsflaminggrill.net/locations. 

Zankou Chicken in Valencia is located at 24463 Magic Mountain Parkway, Santa Clarita. They can be reached by phone at (661) 705-7265 or online at zankouchicken.com/valencia.

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