I’ve done hummus on many occasions over the years, though each time has been subtly different. It’s not a difficult dish but differences of degree can make all the difference. As the Guardian’s review of this subject states:
Hummus may be simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy – there’s an awful lot of disappointing dips out there. Take time to cook the chickpeas properly, and season ever-so-gradually, until the heat of the garlic, and the zing of the lemon suits your particular idea of perfection, and you’ll remember just why this unassuming Middle Eastern staple stole our hearts in the first place.
What follows is the recipe in the Guardian, with the variations I’ve chosen to add included in italics. You can play with the quantities to find the balance that suits you, though my version proved to be excellent in texture, pleasant and well-balanced, not dominated by the seasonings, but very more-ish.
- 200g dried chickpeas
- 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 6 tbsp tahini
- Juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed, or according to taste plus garlic puree if desired
- Pinch of cumin
- Pinch of cayenne
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Olive oil, to top
- Paprika or za’tar or cayenne, to top (optional)
1. Put the chickpeas in a bowl and cover with twice the volume of cold water. Stir in 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda and leave to soak for 24 hours.
2. Drain the chickpeas, rinse well and put in a large pan. Cover with cold water and add the rest of the bicarb. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer gently until they’re tender – they need to be easy to mush, and almost falling apart, which will take between 1 and 4 hours depending on your chickpeas. Add more hot water if they seem to be boiling dry.
3. Leave them to cool in the water, and then drain well, reserving the cooking liquid, and setting aside a spoonful of chickpeas as a garnish. Mix the tahini with half the lemon juice and half the crushed garlic – it should tighten up – then stir in enough cooled cooking liquid to make a loose paste. Add this, and the chickpeas, to a food processor and whizz to make a purée.
4. Add the cumin and a generous pinch of salt, then gradually tip in enough cooking water to give a soft paste – it should just hold its shape, but not be claggy. Taste, and add more lemon juice, garlic or salt according to taste. A few drops of olive oil also help improve the consistency.
5. Tip into a bowl, and when ready to serve, drizzle with olive oil, garnish with the reserved chickpeas and sprinkle with paprika or za’tar if using.
Is hummus a near-sacred foodstuff, or a bland, beige paste with good PR? Will anyone come out in favour of tinned chickpeas – or exotic flavourings? – and please, what on earth should I do with 8 bowls of the stuff?