Hummus

I remember the days before Hummus was everywhere on supermarket shelves. When we made our own – and it was gorgeous.

Miles away from the homegenised, whipped-up, greyish-beige pap that you buy.  Go and look in the fridge – is there not a forgotten tub, fermenting ominously, despite all its preservatives and E-numbers?

Ingredients

  • 6oz/175g dried chickpeas – OR
    • use the equivalent canned chickpeas, drained (about 400g)
    • sacrilege? Try different beans – for their subtly different flavours and textures; what about Butter Beans (soaked and boiled), or Pintos, Haricots, whatever? I only suggest it because Broad Bean Hummus/Pâté is so good – though I drew the line at adding Tahini to that.
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsps Tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • Optional
    • pinch red chilli pepper
    • pinch ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • To garnish – you must have olive oil and lemon; as for the rest, think fresh chopped parsley, or sprigs of fresh thyme or oregano, or a dusting of paprika/chilli, and/or a few whole chickpeas

Method

  • Rinse the chickpeas, and allow to soak at least overnight (better still, for a good 24 hours). Drain, then pop into a large saucepan, and cover generously with water. Bring to the boil and simmer until the chickpeas are really soft and very tender. This will take at least a couple of hours – maybe twice as long; don’t be tempted to cut the time short – let the chickpeas become very tender indeed. (Or you could use a pressure cooker!) You may need to add extra water, and you should skim off any scum that forms.
  • Drain them well – keep a little of the cooking water back, and put aside a few of the chickpeas to use as a garnish later. Pop into a food processor, with the garlic, salt, and cumin, and blitz to a thickish paste – you will need to add some of the cooking water you’ve reserved, but don’t make the paste too thin.
    • Optional – for an exceptionally smooth Hummus, the cooked chickpeas can be skinned. Now that is dedication … or madness.
  • Now the Tahini – it’s strange stuff; mix it well before you take it out of the jar. Pop 1 or 2 tablespoons of it into a bowl; mix half the lemon juice in really well with a fork – you’re almost whipping it. Add this to the chickpea paste, and blitz to mix.
  • Adjust the seasonings – adding lemon, garlic, or salt as necessary to taste.
  • And serve on a plate or bowl, with the centre smoothed and filled with a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice, and whatever other garnish takes your fancy.  And Pitta Bread.
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