By Himanee Gupta
Masabacha looks like hummus. But it’s not.
Masabacha is an Israeli take on hummus, with a signature Pucker Gourmet Pickles flair. The word itself is a Romanized version of an Arabic word that roughly translates to “soaked in” or “swimming,” explains Ben Hillis, who owns Puckers with his wife Kelley. In the classic version, whole-cooked chickpeas are mixed into tahini and served warm for breakfast, drizzled over pita bread.
The Puckers version is closer to hummus in thickness but is creamier and more acidic. It contains whole chickpeas and tahini along with avocado oil, fermented apple cider vinegar, garlic, Himalayan rose sale, peppercorns, lemon juice, and smoked paprika. It can be eaten as a dip, spread, or condiment.
“It’s a little untraditional, but then so are we,” says Ben. “We like to take old traditional classics and put a contemporary twist on them.”
Puckers specializes in probiotic-rich pickles and has nearly two dozen such items.
But, Ben notes, “Not everyone enjoys pickles, so we wanted to branch out a little.”
Both he and Kelley maintain a plant-based diet that includes many sandwich spreads. They noticed that commercial spreads were delicious but nutritionally weak.
Hummuses were an exception, but they were hesitant to create a product that friends were selling at the farmers’ markets they brought their pickles to. Over time, however, many of these friends downsized or closed their businesses, which created a void in market offerings and an opportunity for them.
Masabacha made its first appearance on their tables at the Saratoga Farmers Market and elsewhere during this winter. Ben explains, “We wanted to roll it out at a time of year when farmers’ market sales are low.”
So far, the product has been popular, thanks in part to a return post-pandemic to the ability for artisanal food-makers to offer samples.
As for how to enjoy eating masabacha, try scooping it with crackers or chips. It also works well as a salad dressing over lettuce and vegetables with chopped nuts or a hard-boiled or poached egg on top. One of Ben’s customers reported mixing it into a sauce for chicken wings. One of Ben’s favorite preparations is “Heavenly Eggs,” in which the mayonnaise of Deviled Eggs is replaced with masabacha, making the eggs “heavenly” in flavor and health benefits, too.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is open on Saturdays from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the Wilton Mall Food Court. Find us online at www.saratogafarmersmarket.org, where you can sign up for our weekly newsletter, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram @SaratogaFarmersMarket.