14/03/2014

Hummus

Hummus
home made hummus
Makes about two cups

Ingredients:
1 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight (or one 400ml can)
2 medium cloves garlic, crushed
2 tblsp tahini
2 tblsp lemon juice
2-4 tblsp olive oil

Method:
If using dried chickpeas, rinse them well. Cover them in plenty of fresh water in a large pan, bring to the boil, and simmer for about an hour until soft. 

Whether cooking yourself or using a can, strain the chickpeas, reserving the liquid. 

Blend the chickpeas in a liquidiser (blender) with the other ingredients, adding about half a cup of the chickpea cooking water, or more if necessary until you have a smooth, spreadable consistency which is still quite thick. 

Scrape out into a suitable container, and keep in the refrigerator. 

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Hummus is originally a Middle Eastern spread, but is also extremely popular in Cyprus. Tahini, a paste made of sesame seeds, is widely and inexpensively available from supermarkets and fruit shops, and keeps for a long time even after opening. Chickpeas are an excellent form of protein, and are known as garbanzo beans in the United States.

I always used to cook them from the dried product, and still do when using chickpeas in curries or other main dishes. But we've found that the canned ones make a much smoother hummus; keeping a can of chickpeas in my kitchen cupboard also means that I can whizz up a batch of hummus in five minutes rather than having to plan ahead to soak overnight and then cook before using.

While hummus can be bought, it often contains extra preservatives, and we like this home-made version considerably better. The amount of lemon juice and garlic can be adjusted to suit personal tastes. My original recipe asked for the juice of a large lemon, and we found that made it far too lemony for our tastes. We find that the juice of half a small lemon is about right; since lemons vary so much in size, I've adjusted it to a couple of tablespoons, which is our preference.

You can add a bit of paprika, or cayenne (if you prefer it to be spicy), or caramelise a chopped onion and add that. If you add oregano, basil and a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste, you have what some people call pizza-flavoured hummus.

Hummus is often used as a dip, with carrot sticks, cucumber pieces and pieces of pitta bread, or can be spread on bread and eaten with salad. I use mine in baked potatoes rather than using butter or a spread.

Note that the drained cooking water, whether from a can or from cooking chickpeas yourself, is known as aquafaba. It can be whipped like egg whites, and used in many ways. 

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