Hummus, that amazing, wonderful puree of chickpeas and sesame seeds, an amazing spread and dip, ubiquitous in the Middle East. Is there anything better than sitting down to a meal of hummus and flatbread?
I prefer mine made the old fashioned way, with chickpeas soaked and cooked to a heavenly tenderness before being whizzed into that heavenly concoction called hummus. To make the whole process quicker, soak and cook chickpeas beforehand, whenever you have the time, and pop them in ziplock bags into the freezer. When you want hummus, defrost them and whizz them up with garlic and tahini.
But sometimes an emergency solution is required. At these times, use a can of chickpeas or butter beans. Or mix the two.
How do you get the creamiest hummus? Everyone has a different view. Here is how to cook the softest chickpeas but it takes so much time! Here is my trick. Cook the chickpeas until almost falling apart. They have to be really soft. Then use a high speed blender or powerful food processor. But don’t be afraid if your hummus is a little grainy – it will still taste absolutely wonderful.
Where did hummus originate? Such a fraught question. There seems to be some suggestion that the Jews were eating hummus in Biblical times. Others say it was Levantine or Egyptian Arabs that first made hummus. It is now definitely claimed by Palestinians and Israelis, but its popularity has spread throughout the Middle East. The very best hummus I have ever tasted was in a Lebanese restaurant in Thailand. Go figure!
Some like hummus smooth and fluffy, others a little chunky and spicy. Some like it warm, others at room temperature. Some like it plain and simple, others enjoy it served with chickpeas, spice pastes or even broad beans. What is your favourite?
150 – 200g cooked chickpeas (see the recipe notes below for a tip on how to cook them), 1 can butter beans or 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
juice of 0.5 – 1 lemon
2 – 3 Tblspn organic tahini
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 – 4 Tblspn good quality virgin cold pressed olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
Add the tahini and lemon juice to the blender or food processor and process for 90 seconds to make the creamy dressing. Stop half way through to scrape down the sides.
Now into the blender with the garlic, olive oil and salt and process for 30 seconds. Finally, add the chickpeas and blend, scraping down the sides. The longer you process the chickpeas, the smoother the hummus will be.
Adjust the salt, pepper, garlic and lemon to taste. If it is still too thick, add a little warm water and blend until the desired consistency is reached. I like it very soft, almost runny, so it just holds its shape. (See note below on using iced water.)
Let the hummus rest for at least 30 mins before serving, if serving at room temperature, or serve immediately if you prefer it warm. Never serve it cold/refrigerated.
Serve hummus with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkling of paprika, if desired.
recipe notes and alternatives
To cook chickpeas, soak them in plenty of cold water overnight. Drain. Cook the chickpeas in plenty of water and 1 tspn baking soda (bicarb soda) for 1 – 1.5 cups chickpeas (250g chickpeas); it softens the skins, and your hummus will be silky smooth. Cook for 30 – 40 minutes until the chickpeas are tender, skimming off any foam that comes to the surface. They might even take longer, depending on their age and dryness. Once done, they should be very tender, breaking up easily when pressed between yur thumb and finger and almost, but not quite, mushy.
I often soak the chickpeas during the day, and pop them in the slow cooker overnight, with the baking soda. In the morning they are perfectly done.
When making hummus, use an amount of olive oil that you are comfortable with – it will absorb quite a bit and many prefer to thin with water rather than too much oil. Once the oil has been added, then use water to thin the puree to a desired level.
I have always added warm water if the hummus needs thinning, but Ottolenghi suggests using ice cold water. (Also he does not use any oil in this recipe in Jerusalem. In another recipe he adds warm cooking liquid. This is particularly important if you want to serve your hummus warm.)
For a change, add some ground cumin.
Or take 0.5 bunch parsley, and blend with the chickpeas.
And when all is said and done, if you are short of time, dump all ingredients in the blender or food processor at once and go for it. No one will notice the difference.
You can also make Hummus using Turmeric Chickpeas, or just add a pinch or two of turmeric to the blender before you blend.
browse some Dip and other recipes
- Chickpea, Almond and Sesame Spread
- Salsa Verde
- Thick Yoghurt Tahina Dip with Herbs
- Tomato and Chilli Jam