Hummus, and other gems in second-tier cities


My favorite hummus, ever, was ordered at a Turkish restaurant called Bosphorous, located on a popular street in the mega-city (and our old home) of Guangzhou, China–population 12-15 million, depending who you ask. Quite an unexpected location for a platter of really amazing hummus, right?!

By the time I left Guangzhou, there were two branches of Bosphorous open, but the original, located near the Xiao Bei (小北 ) metro stop in a neighborhood casually known as Little Africa, was the one I preferred due to it’s…ahem, more “rustic” quality, which I personally think made the food just that much tastier. Plus the original was located next to a nightclub called 50 Cent. The club was always an option for a night out for our group of friends, since it involved going no earlier than midnight, Chinese girls dressed in turkish belly dancer outfits dancing around and on tables, and amazing people-watching. It’s also the only place I’ve seen more men on the dance floor than women, I think.

Every order of hummus eaten since 2010 has warranted comparisons to that one creamy, nutty, fluffy, olive-oily hummus, served at Bosphorous–at the long and crowded communal tables, in a smoke-filled room that was milling with so many dark-haired, olive-skinned Middle Easterners that you’d think you were in Ankara or Istanbul proper. It was a hummus that was perfectly drizzled with rich olive oil and garnished with a single olive, one olive that the Diploman and I were always wont to fight over during subsequent trips back–and there were many, many trips back during our two years there.


And such is part of the beauty of these International second-tier cities, like Guangzhou. Like Dar. For every Michelin-starred gem in Hong Kong or Cape Town, there are also equally spectacular gems to be uncovered in lesser known, smaller-named cities. Great hummus isn’t a reason to visit Guangzhou, but it’s certainly a perk of one’s time there.

Here in Dar, I’ve found excellent BBQ prawns at BBQ Village, spiced and smooth curried chickpeas at Patel Brotherhood, satisfying grilled fish on the beaches of Bongoyo Island, open-air rooftop dining scooping up Ethiopian lentils at Addis in Dar, and the richest, most luxurious seafood platter at Alexander’s Guesthouse, tucked away in the backroads near my house.

And while none of these are the sole reason that I’m here, nor are the the sole reason you should come and visit (aside from grilled fish on the beach…that’s pretty compelling, isn’t it?), they certainly make spending some time in this city all the more exciting.

Homemade Bosphorous-ian Hummus 

I’ve created what I think is a hummus, on par with the best hummus I’ve ever had from that unlikely Chinese Turkish restaurant. This is one that I proudly bring to any potluck, picnic, fundraiser, or party, anywhere I am in the world.


  • 1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, shelled (see instructions below), about 1 1/4 cups chickpeas
  • 1/3 cup tahini paste
  • Juice from 1 ripe, juicy lemon, about 4 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 small garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 Tbsp. Chickpea water (liquid reserved from draining chickpeas from the can)
  • 2 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. filtered water

shelling chickpeas



  1. Shell chickpeas- meaning, remove the bean from the translucent film covering each chickpea. This step isn’t mandatory, but it will create a much smoother hummus, separating just-average hummus from truly-great hummus! It’s a slow and methodical process, but it’s not too tiresome. The best way I’ve found is to pinch a single chickpea between your thumb and pointer finger until the bean slips out, leaving its shell between your fingers.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Blend for 30 seconds, or until super creamy. Of course everyone’s texture preferences are difference, so if you prefer even smoother add another tablespoon or two of water. Keep in mind, the hummus will firm up just a little bit after some time in the fridge.
  3. Serve drizzled with a generous pour of olive oil over the top.
And just FYI, here’s the address to Bosphorous. You’ll find 50 Cent just down the street…
Bosphorus Turkish Restaurant near XiaoBei metro stop
304 Huanshi Middle Road, Yuexiu, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China, 510350
+86 20 8356 3578


10 thoughts on “Hummus, and other gems in second-tier cities

  1. That hummus looks a-mazing!!! I tried to make hummus once but didn’t realize that tahini by the cups was bad for hummus =) Also, oddly enough, the best hummus I have had is in my home town of WICHITA, KS! I never in my life would have thought Kansas would have good hummus. Apparently, their recipe is a big secret too because they won’t share =(

    • Haha hi Beka! Well, it’s definitely taken me several trial-and-error runs to get this a-mazing hummus. The trick really is the lemon, which balances out your tahini-by-the-cupfuls :) Let me know if you try this recipe!

  2. Hi Jessie, I am going to China next year. If Guangzhou makes the cut, I will definitely try to lure my friends to Bosphorus. Love your blog, btw. I am glad I found it through Treat Yo Self Thursday link up.

    • Nice! Guangzhou typically does not make the cut other than a quick stopover on the way to other, more fascinating destinations. If you want some other recs though, let me know!! Are you going to China just to travel? How long? I’m curious to know your itinerary!!!

  3. Made your recipe and LOVE IT! I use to make hummus but my recipe involved party bowl size results and long planning to soak dried beans that it got put aside and misplaced in moves. This was so much simpler – even with peeling each canned bean by hand (there are more beans in that can that I would have ever admitted prior). Thanks for sharing! This will now be a staple in our home – next to popcorn chickpeas which is lazy (rinse canned garbanzos, sprinkle with olive oil and garlic powder, bake in moderate oven about 15-20 minutes til just at the point of turning brown, and eat warm!)

    • I know, isn’t it amazing how shelling those little buggers and adding a healthy dose of lemon makes this hummus better than storebought?! I, too, have forgone the dried bean process, since I rarely remember to pre-soak the night before. Glad you like this recipe–will definitely give your “popcorn chickpeas” a try. Sounds like they would be just as good in a salad as a snack!

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