A few weeks ago I had hummus at the famous Abu-Hassan/Ali-Caravan place in Jaffa, Tel Aviv. When you order hummus there you also get a small bowl of lemony chilli liquid on the side. The liquid is hot and really bitter.

The idea is to mix the chilli liquid in with the hummus to get it as hot as you like. It's really delicious!

Does anyone have any creative ideas about how I could make this kind of liquid at home? I have dried chilli flakes, and as a first pass I can fry them in some olive oil, drain and mix in lemon juice. I wonder though if anyone created this kind of thing before and is in a position to give some advice.

Thank you!

  • 2
    When you say it's a liquid, is it oily? Since hummus normally has tahini in it, and since this liquid is bitter, it could be that they're taking the oil off of their tahini and infusing it with chilis and lemon rind/oil. It's hard to say, though, without some rough description of the composition of the liquid. Jul 26, 2013 at 16:37
  • @OmniaFaciat - it wasn't oily, more the consistency of water. Jul 26, 2013 at 16:56
  • Are you sure that it was just chilis in the liquid? Sumac is traditional to serve with hummus in some regions. It is red, like chilis, but has a tart, slightly bitter flavor.
    – SourDoh
    Jul 26, 2013 at 18:04

2 Answers 2


In Israel I have often seen hummus/falafel/thina served with a hot sauce called skhug, I have mostly seen the green variety (skhug yarok), which is a sauce made of fresh herbs, garlic, chili, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and some spices.

Hummus is often just served with thina on the side and with olive oil, but there is a lot of variety ... I have seen sauces based on olive oil and lemon juice, similar to what you describe (although not biter ... but the bitterness could also come from blending the olive oil). But I never saw it being prepared in front of me or it being called a particular name, but it looked a little like a thin vinaigrette.

Using my extremely limited hebrew knowledge and google I found this recipe.

enter image description here

The ingredients translate to:

2 hot chilies

3-4 cloves of garlic

3 tbsp olive oil

juice of half a lemon


additional recomendation:

1 tsp cumin


Preparation: Put all ingredients into the food processor and turn into the sauce. Taste and adjust spices/oil/lemon juice to taste. And add sugar if too sour to balance the flavor.

You can let sit a little for the flavors to combine ... and strain out remaining bits if desired.

I am not sure if this is the sauce that you had ... but it could be very similar. Anyway ... it sounds tasty.

  • This sounds like it will work! Thank you! @Sobachatina: beauty is in the eye of the beholder! Jul 26, 2013 at 16:59
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    James, glad if I can help. Enjoy your hot sauce. @Sobachatina I swapped the image for you ;-) But I don't want to know what you feed your poor cats =P Jul 26, 2013 at 17:08
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    @JamesFennell I just wanted to add, that there are millions of variations on all the sauces, so you should try playing around with the recipe adding a bit more of one ingredient or another ... until you hopefully get what you are looking for. And if you use google translate on the original page of the recipe, what gets translated to Yoda talk: "can substitute spicy peppers not", should actually read: "you can substitute with non-spicy chilies/peppers" (more for fun, but also just in case you want to reduce heat at some point) =D Jul 26, 2013 at 17:32
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    This seems to be the right thing. Especially if you prepare it with a knife and not with a food processor! Jul 26, 2013 at 19:06

Capsaicin dissolves easily in oils (and alcohol). Steeping or gently heating chili peppers in oil will easily produce a spicy oil. You could use crushed red peppers but you might get more interesting flavors by using a fresh pepper. A single habanero would give you an interesting fruitiness and all the heat you could ever want.

As for the lemon-
Lemon juice is obviously not going to mix with olive oil. You should use lemon zest instead to take advantage of the fruit's essential oils.

I would warm some olive oil and steep minced habanero and lemon zest in it for a while. Strain out the fruits when you get to the heat level that you want.

  • "Lemon juice is obviously not going to mix with olive oil" — Garlic acts as an emulsifier helping olive oil and lemon juice stay together. Jul 26, 2013 at 19:24
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    @n.m.- If that was the goal, there are a lot of emulsifiers that he could use. He didn't mention garlic as one of the flavors and implied that it was more of a flavored oil than a vinaigrette. Jul 26, 2013 at 19:39

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