Homemade Hummus Recipe
Hummus, the famous lebanese chickpea dip
Hummus is the quintessential Lebanese dip, no mezze spread is complete without it. It is now readily available in supermarkets, in a variety of flavours, however nothing tastes as good as homemade food. It is very easy to make, although if you use dried chickpeas, as I would recommend, you will need to soak them overnight and cook them for about 1.5 hours before you start. Although this might sound like unnecessary fluttery, really the work required to cover some chickpeas with water, and then to boil them for a while is negligible. I do draw the line at the traditional pounding of chickpeas in a pestle and mortar, I like to strive to reproduce traditional food but I think a blender should be allowed. Although a variety of hummus flavours can now be bought, including heresies such as roasted peppers or sun-dried tomatoes (which I do sometimes buy and which taste quite good), when making hummus at home I stick to the way it is eaten in middle eastern countries, a puree of chickpeas with tahini (sesame puree), flavoured with garlic, lemon juice and good olive oil. Ground cumin is the only extra flavouring allowed. Hummus in Arab countries would be scooped up with pieces of freshly baked flat breads.
1. 200g of dried chickpeas soaked overnight with a pinch of bicarbonate of soda
2. 3-4 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
3. 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
4. juice of 1 lemon
5. 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (optional)
6. 3 tbs good extra virgin olive oil
Adding the reserved cooking liquid, rather than just water makes a huge difference to the taste of the hummus!
You can use canned chickpeas. Drain a 400g can, rinse under cold water, cover with water in a saucepan and cook for 5 minutes only. But do try it made from dried chickpeas, it is very satisfying to prepare homemade food the traditional way
You can omit the roasting of the cumin seeds, or even use ready ground cumin, but whole spices have better flavour than ground, and roasting releases the aroma.
Drain the chickpeas, rinse under cold water then place in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to boil, lower the heat and simmer over a gentle flame for 11/2 hours until tender.
Roast the cumin seeds if using in a dry frying pan, until aromatic taking care not to burn them, it shouldn't take more than a minute. Grind to a powder in a pestle and mortar.
When chickpeas are tender, drain them reserving the cooking liquid. You might like to keep a few whole to use as garnish, tip the rest into a blender with tahini, garlic, some salt and the olive oil. Add a couple of table spoons of cooking liquid and process until smooth. You might need to add more reserved cooking liquid to obtain the right consistency, it should be soft and almost pourable. There is no absolutely correct consistency, go for what feels right for you. Season with salt, add some of the lemon juice and pulse. Adjust the taste with more salt and/or lemon juice and possibly olive oil until it is to your liking.
This is it! I really like eating it while it is still a little warm. It will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.
It is traditional to serve hummus as part of a mezze drizzled with extra olive oil. You can also garnish it with some whole cooked chickpeas, and/or sprinkle with paprika for the colour contrast.
Hummus is not only delicious, it is also very healthy since chickpeas are rich in protein and fibre. It is also a 'naturally' vegetarian dish. I think a vegetarian diet, or one that tries to limit meat consumption, works better when traditional meat-free dishes are eaten, rather than dishes that use substitutes for meat. If you are vegetarian pulses, such as chickpeas, should form an important part of your diet.