Hummus can be picked up in assorted flavours, with assorted toppings, in little plastic tubs in nearly every shop in the country. We’ve gotten quare fancy in the last few years, culinarily speaking.
Its also possible to bash some together at home in moments, with a can of chickpeas and a few bits and bobs. I’ve even been known to make it with jarred garlic and bottled lemon.
While I don’t eat anything like the quantities I did at my peak hummus stage a couple of years ago, I do like to keep some on hand for emergency snackage, or making a sandwich a bit less boring, or for smearing liberally on a toasted bagel.
The problem with a lot of the supermarket tubs is the volume of water in the hummus. Some feel almost mousse-like in texture, like they’ve been forced through a syphon to disguise the fact that there’s so much water packed in, usually at the expense of olive oil, or even chickpeas.
Every few weeks I like to make slow hummus. Like the slow food movement, it takes a bit of time, but the results are great. It’s less a recipe and more of a series of guidelines, and the proportions change with my mood and whatever I’m feeling into, food-wise, at the time. This will be a long post for a short recipe, but it’s actually really straightforward with great results, and very simple once you’ve made it once.
Step one: soak dried chickpeas in lots of cold water. Plain tap water is perfect. How many depends on how much hummus you’re likely to get through in 3-4 days. They’ll double in size after a good soak of at least 12 hours. I usually do 100-200g at a time. Don’t use a half empty, dusty pack from the back of the press. Save those for a stew or curry where they’re support cast and not the star of the show.
Step two: cooking the chickpeas. Rinse well under cold water, add to pot, add cold water. I use my pressure cooker, and let the water come about 2-3cm over the chickpeas. If you’re boiling on the hob, you’ll need to use a bit more and possibly top up as you go. The magic ingredient here is one from the cookbook Jerusalem, which I’ve often thumbed through but don’t (yet) own a copy of – add a quarter teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda. It speeds cooking time and helps the little guys to come out of their shells.
Depending on the age and moisture content of the chickpeas, boiling time could be 90-120 minutes. Pressure cooker 7-12 minutes.
Now while they’re being turned into mush shortly, don’t be tempted to overlook, as they’ll absorb too much water and will also start to break down, and the end result will be watery or even gloopy.
Step three: peel the chickpeas.
Yup. Every one.
Pat this point you can totally say “sod that!” and move to step four. No one will judge you for it. It’s worth going the whole hog once though – you’ll never look back and while it’s a bit boring and time consuming, it makes velvety smooth hummus.
Easiest way is when they’re still warm. Keep your cooking liquid in the pot, and scoop the chickpeas to another bowl. Squeeze the chickpea gently and it’ll pop out of its skin quite happily into your other hand. Dont squeeze too hard as they’re slippery when freed. Plonk the shiny, naked chickpea back into the cooking water.
Every now and again, find one that self-peeled, and rejoice. Every now and again, squeeze too hard and ping one across the room. Contemplate calling the dog to deal with it, but resolve to just pick it up if you ever get to the end of the bowl. Forget about it entirely, and find it with your bare foot, three days later…
…but I digress
Once all the chickpeas are peeled, lea e them in the warm liquid, and break out he food processor.
The next bits are largely to taste, but I start with
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp olive oil – it’s a good place for extra virgin if you have it.
juice of half a lemon and a good pinch of salt.
Whizz briefly, then add the chickpeas, scooped from the liquid. Process, stopping a couple of times to scrape down. If it’s too thick, add some cooking liquid, a tablespoon at a time. When it’s the right consistency for you, check seasoning, then let the processor run for a good 2-3 minutes. Scoop into suitable container and refrigerate for a couple of hours before eating (I know, I know!).
The hummus add ins change every batch for me. Sometimes my garlic isn’t very strong, or my lemons are super sharp. The quantities above are just a start point. I also often add in some smoked paprika, or a dash of ground cumin. If I’m roasting garlic I’ll put on an extra bulb just for whizzing into the hummus, as it’s sweet and soft and delicious in it. Not overpowering at all.
Ill make it thicker if it will be mostly for spreading on sandwiches, or thinner for dipping.
Its all about finding your perfect combo, really. Have some fun with it!