Hummus

Introduction

Found right across the Middle East with subtle enhancements and now around the globe with some bizarre varations, hummus is the ubiquitous dip.

The variations are natural enough. Without the addition of Tahini (sesame paste) humus would be a dull offering.

I have gone back to basics and include two variations that are natural extensions of the original. Feel free to experiment.

Tips

There are advantages to using dried chick-peas\garbanzo beans and soaking them yourself, but you need to be an hummus afficionado to notice the difference.

If you do buy them dried, have a look at when they were packed. In countries where they are sold loose, price is dependant on age, so the younger ones are more desirable because they take less time to cook and have better flavour.

For a modern, healthy spin on hummus I recommend sprouting dried chick-peas\garbanzo beans. Once sprouted they do not need to be cooked.

To maximise the juice expressed from a lemon, roll it on a kitchen counter under the palm of your hand until you can feel the outer skin soften. This can yield up to 20% more juice.

I like to grind cumin seed as I need it, but ground cumin is also good.

Ingredients (serves four)

  • 125g dried chick-peas\garbanzo beans
  • One 410g\15oz can of chick-peas\garbanzo beans - yields approx 240g\8½oz
    Look for cans with the fewest ingredients possible, ideally water, peas\beans and salt
  • 90g\3oz tahina paste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 medium-sized lemons, juiced
  • 2-3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • A pinch of ground cumin
  • Salt and Cayenne pepper

Tools of the Trade

  • Blender or food processor

Method

If using dried peas\beans follow the soaking directions on the back of the packet. Younger beans will take 12-24 hours, older ones can take a day or two longer. If you have purchased the beans loose the rule of thumb is that they are ready when they have doubled in weight. Place the soaked beans in a pan, cover with fresh water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer for 45-60 minutes. Drain the beans keeping a cup of the drained cooking water.

If using canned peas\beans, drain them reserving half a cup of the liquid. Top this up with fresh water and stir thoroughly.

Place three tablespoons of the drained liquid or cooking water in the food processor or blender. Add the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, a pinch of salt and ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper and blend until smooth. Gradually add the chick peas and blend or process until you achieve the desired texture. You may need to add more of the liquid or olive oil if the mixture becomes to stiff or claggy.

I like my hummus a little textured, as you can see in the photograph above. In the Middle East it is commonly served very smooth with a higher proportion of tahini paste.

Adjust the seasoning to taste. Serve with a sprinkling of cayenne pepper and a spot or two of olive oil.

Suggestion

Add two fire roasted red peppers, the bottled variety, to the mixture before processing for red pepper hummus.

For a lavish celebratory hummus, add a tablespoon of caramelized onions added to the finished hummus. Hold back 10% of the chick peas and roll them in a mixture of oil, ground cumin, salt and cayenne pepper. Add them to the finished hummus along with a tablespoon of toasted pine nuts. Lush.