One of the most well known of all dips – competing with the likes of french onion and baba ganoush for the top title – hummus is the well-loved but often commercially butchered dip gracing many a barbeque spread and picnic blanket.
Generally speaking, the stuff you buy in tubs from the supermarket has nothing on the flavour and texture of the authentic thing.
Almost since I started cooking, I’ve been trying to live up to my mother’s hummus – the origins of which date all the way back to her 1977 edition of the Moosewood Cookbook.
I think the one key point of difference is that Mum always prepares her chickpeas from scratch, whereas I admit to normally taking advantage of the canned variety.
Most hummus recipes using dried chickpeas involve simmering them for a couple of hours (or using a pressure cooker, which reduces the time slightly).
But a brilliant, short-cut solution is on hand thanks to Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi – the team behind the dynamic Middle-East-meets-West Ottolenghi delis in London.
Their version of hummus (found here on Food52.com), promises chickpeas which are cooked in 20 to 40 minutes flat.
Briefly cooking the soaked chickpeas directly with baking soda scruffs up the skins and allows them to cook much faster and puree more smoothly.
My resulting recipe drew inspiration from both Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s version, as well as my mother’s – incredibly silky and with just the right balance of lemon, garlic and salt.
the best homemade hummus
1 ¼ cups dried chickpeas
1 tsp baking soda
6 ½ cups water
¾ cup tahini (hulled)
⅓ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sweet paprika
6 tbsp ice cold water
good quality olive oil, to serve
The night before, put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover them with cold water at least twice their volume. Leave to soak overnight.
The next day, drain the chickpeas. Place a medium saucepan over high heat and add the drained chickpeas and baking soda.
Cook for about three minutes, stirring constantly. Add the water and bring to a boil.
Continue to boil, skimming off any foam and any skins that float to the surface. The chickpeas will need to cook for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on type and freshness.
Once done, they should be very tender and break up easily when pressed between your thumb and finger (almost but not quite mushy).
Drain the chickpeas, leaving you with roughly three to four cups’ worth. Place the chickpeas in a food processor and process until you have a firm paste.
With the machine sill running, add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, paprika and a few pinches of sea salt.
Finally, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and ice water. Allow to blend for about five minutes, until you have a very smooth and creamy paste.
Taste and if required, make any last adjustments to the flavour (you want a good balance between the salt and lemon juice).
Transfer the hummus to a bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
If you’re not eating it straightaway, refrigerate until needed. Make sure to take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.
When ready to eat, drizzle with a layer of good quality olive oil. Serve with warm pita bread, fresh baby vegetables or tabouli.