Although it’s origins are disputed, when you think about Israeli food, Hummus is certainly one of the first things that come to mind.
I first tried making hummus as a student and the result was a resounding failure. Having been subjected to many attempts over the years from friends and family, I decided to give it another chance. As has been the case for much of my cooking in recent months, Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem was the catalyst and the source of the recipe which seemed both exceedingly straightforward and not particularly time consuming. The clincher was that it’s a recipe which I can pull all the ingredients from my store cupboard or fridge – no excuse not to make it!
A very small amount of advanced planning is required as you’ll need to soak your chickpeas overnight but really the effort required of taking a scoop and throwing them into a bowl with some water is so minimal that as long as you plan your menu in advance, this is no great concern.
Many moons ago, a colleague of Moroccan origin gave me a recipe involving chickpeas and I asked if I could use canned. If looks could kill…..! A couple of weeks back, I was asked to prepare this recipe at short notice which meant resorting to canned chickpeas – the outcome, whilst acceptable was nowhere near as good as using dried with a very noticeable difference in the texture.
Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, one of my favourite cooking blogs (which also has a cookbook) , reckons that the most awesome hummus involves removing the skins from the chickpeas. That may be so – and if you have the patience then go for it. I take the view that life’s too short and the outcome without popping of the skins is pretty damn good – but do feel free to remove any obvious skins from the mix if you desire…
1/3 cup of dried chickpeas
juice of half a lemon (or to taste – not all lemons are created equal…)
1/4 cup techina paste (or to taste)
pinch of salt
2 cloves of garlic (or to taste)
Start by soaking your chickpeas overnight. Here’s a before and after just to show the incredible amount that these suckers can soak up! Soaking them for longer won’t hurt them so don’t worry about leaving them all day.
After they’re drained, throw them into a hot pan with a teaspoon of baking soda and stir for a minute or two before adding 1.5 litres of cold water.
Bring them to the boil and then leave to simmer away, skimming foam and any skins that rise to the top until they’re good and soft – should take about 45 minutes – you want them to be soft but not to totally disintegrate.
Pull them out and drain them – reserve the cooking liquid. It’s full of flavour and you’ll use it later to give your hummus the right texture.
Once they’ve cooled a bit, throw the chickpeas in a food processor with your cloves of garlic, lemon juice, raw techina and salt. Blitz – just let the machine run for a few minutes. Once blended together you’ll most likely find that the mix is thicker than you want. Slowly add the cooking liquid until it’s the right texture.
Now taste it and add according to your taste – some people like their hummus really lemony; others like a hit of garlic and others still will tell you that more or less techina is what’s important. Play with the mix until you find what works for you!
Serve with any combination of a drizzle of olive oil, toasted pine nuts, za’atar, finely chopped parsley or any of dozens of other toppings…..