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Local Eats: February 8, 2013

The Mideast Next Door

There’s a little brick building a couple of blocks off Roslyn Road that, for eight years, has been drawing lovers of Israeli and Middle Eastern food. They’re not coming for a fine-dining experience—Hummus World has only a few tables and its trade is mostly take-out and catering—but here they find some of best hummus in the region.

Hummus, a mixture of chickpeas, tahini (ground sesame seeds) and spices, is the star of the show. It is thick, creamy and well flavored and will spoil your taste for any store-bought hummus. Hummus is served in most of the dishes at Hummus World—in pita sandwiches, on platters, and as a dish in its own right. When combined with chicken shawarma (boneless chicken that has been slowly cooked on a spit) and a variety of vegetables such as marinated eggplant and mushrooms in a whole-wheat pita (imported from Israel), you have a satisfying and filling meal.

Esther and Yochanan Derman are the owners of Hummus World and Esther is the cook, producing soups, salads and other Middle Eastern dishes. Each day she prepares soup as the mood suits her. One day it might be Moroccan vegetable soup and split pea soup, or perhaps lentil or carrots with ginger.

Esther’s shawarma is made with white and dark meat boneless chicken and seasoned with more than 50 spices, she says. She was willing to reveal only five—paprika, black pepper, cumin, coriander and turmeric. The shawarma is thinly sliced and used in a variety of dishes, such as shawarma platter served with hummus and Israeli salad of cucumber, tomato, cabbage and carrots. The Derman’s son, Ari, invented a dish called shawafel, which brings together shawarma and their crisp and crunchy falafel with Israeli salad and sauce.

Esther also prepares several hot sauces—mild green, medium red, medium to hot yellow and fire hot brown—to use on the food as well.

Portions at Hummus World are huge and very shareable. With the exception of the pita, all the food is gluten free; the restaurant is glatt kosher, meaning the meat products were processed under the highest kosher laws.

While the restaurant is tiny, eating there can be a treat especially if both Esther and Yochanan are there putting on a show with their banter.

Hummus World is located at 17A Lincoln Ave., Roslyn Heights. The phone number is 516-621-0025 and the website,