Spitting good Hummus
This post contains an admission, an admonishment and for those patient enough to get to the end, a recipe for fabulous hummus.
My whole life I never liked hummus. This despite growing up in a respectable Jewish family (one could be forgiven for thinking that Jewish culture is ALL about food) with a food loving father who actually lived in Israel. So when I moved to New York I was somewhat dismayed to find that, along with bagels and lox, the kosher deli and liberal use of yiddish expletives, hummus was everywhere.
It was, therefore, a revelation, to discover that while I found supermarket hummus a bland and boring slurry, freshly made hummus is comforting, delicious, and even good for you. I have my sister to thank for dragging me to a hummuseria last year and insisting that I give the chickpea spread another try. Real hummus is made mostly with chickpeas and tahini (and not red peppers or eggplants or artichokes) and is served slightly warm, with lashings of good olive oil accompanied by fresh pita bread and perhaps some olives or a boiled egg. If you have never had this kind of hummus I really recommend you give it a try: you’ll find that it compares favorably to what you’ve been used to, in much the same way that wine compares favorably to water or that chocolate cake surpasses dirt.
If you are going to start making and eating authentic middle eastern hummus then I urge you to go one step further and start to pronounce hummus with a gutteral ‘h’… I think you will find this proper pronunciation will make the dish taste more authentic. Certainly, I’ll consider it a personal favor to have you join me in my fight to stop pronouncing hummus as homonymous with humus (that nutrient rich soil which one hopes to plant food in but never eat). If pronouncing that guttural sound is hard for you, remember, its ‘ch’ as in the Scottish loch (picture yourself in a wee kilt), or if that doesn’t help you, just make as if you are going to spit!
When making homemade hummus the most time consuming part is cooking the chickpeas – the addition of baking soda does help with this, but, in a pinch, making your own hummus using canned chickpeas, while not the real deal, is still infinitely tastier than store bought.
- 2 ½ cups dried chickpeas (or about 5 cups canned)
- 1½ Tsp baking soda soda (if cooking your own)
- 1 ¼ cups tahini
- Juice of 1 lemon (or more, to taste)
- 6 cloves garlic, crushed (or more, to taste)
- Olive oil
- 3 eggs, hard-boiled, roughly chopped (to garnish, optional)
In a large bowl add 1 Tbs of baking soda to 5 cups of water and soak the chickpeas overnight
Drain and rinse the chickpeas then place in a medium saucepan with the remaining baking soda, covered with double their volume of cold water. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 2-3 hours, until tender. Add more water if necessary to keep them covered throughout.
Drain well, reserving the cooking liquid, and setting aside a few chickpeas as a garnish. In a food processor blend the chickpeas with the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt adding enough cooled cooking liquid to make a loose paste.
Serve warm, with plenty of olive oil swirled on top, a sprinkling of paprika, and the egg, if using, on the side.