Hummus

Hummus is one of those things that I grew up loving to eat. I tend to be a fan of textured flavorful foods. Ironically, hummus is a puree – it has no texture, per say, but it does have great flavor.  I spent a number of years in the Middle East so I became accustomed to the local food including traditional hummus. In fact, eating hummus made by Lebanese chefs spoiled me – I am now a hummus elitist and can think of only one restaurant in all of the US states that I’ve lived in that had quality hummus – La Shish in Dearborn, Michigan. I haven’t eaten there in about a decade but the food was so good that I still remember it to this day.

I came across this particular recipe at my sister’s place in a Williams Sonoma cookbook. The hummus came out flavorful and creamy – and was absolutely fabulous with the sesame-ajwain-nigella wheat crackers. Makes enough for 10-12 people when served as an appetizer.

Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (7oz/220 g) dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • juice of 2-3 lemons
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz/125 g) tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2-6 cloves garlic, minced (adjust garlic to your taste, 2 might be enough)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt to taste
  • For garnish: paprika, minced fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, black pepper, black olives, and lemon wedges

Measure out 1 cup of the chickpeas and check the chickpeas for stones. Then pour the chickpeas into a large bowl. Soak the chickpeas in enough room temperature water to cover the chickpeas, overnight (or with hot water for at least 3 hours). Soaking the chickpeas makes the beans easier to digest.

After the soaking, drain the water and then either slow cook or pressure cook. To pressure cook the chickpeas, add all the chickpeas to the pressure cooker, add enough water to cover plus an extra 2 inches of water above the chickpeas. Turn the heat on high and allow the pressure to build. The cooking time in the pressure cooker will depend on your particular pressure cooker.  My pressure cooker has a regulator that sounds a whistle when the pressure has built up. I allow the whistle to sound four times before lowering the heat to low for 10 minutes.  If you decide to slow cook the chick peas, place the chickpeas in a saucepan with enough water to cover plus an extra 2 inches of water above the chickpeas. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered until the skins begin to crack and the chickpeas are tender, 45-60 minutes. Freshly cooked chickpeas have a distinctive smell so you should be able to tell when they have cooked through completely by smell alone!

When completely cooked, drain the cooker or saucepan and reserve the cooking liquid. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade (or a blender), combine the chickpeas, juice of 2 lemons, tahini, 2 tablespoons of the reserved cooking liquid, 3 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, cumin and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Process until a soft, creamy paste forms. Add a little more cooking liquid if necessary. Taste and add more lemon juice or salt as necessary.

To serve, spread the hummus on a servign plate or place in a bowl. Garnish with paprika, minced parsley, pepper, olives, lemon wedges. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve with warmed pita bread or wheat crackers.

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