We all seem to love hummus! Amazing when you think that way back we’d never heard of the stuff. Did your mother use chickpeas? Did anyone know what tahini was? We were just getting used to garlic, for heaven’s sake!
But I think our taste buds have changed or it’s just that we’ve become more adventurous and what’s more, we travel. We know so much more about Middle Eastern cooking than we ever did and one of the results is that we have embraced hummus with a passion.
I am talking about the UK in particular as of course here in Turkey it’s existed all along! According to the Guardian who published an article recently on hummus, no fewer than 41% of all Brits will have a pot of hummus in the fridge at any one time!
Of course, the way it’s eaten over there is different to here: in the UK it’s usually seen as a dip in which to dunk carrot or celery sticks. Or it’s used to spread on pita bread which is great.
Here in Turkey, we eat it as a meze along with other small dishes prior to the main course. Apparently in Israel, it’s a dish in its own right.
I’ve been making it on and off for years, first soaking the dried chickpeas overnight and making it ‘the proper way’, then embracing the relatively new tins of cooked chickpeas with a sigh of relief.
But now I am back to using the dried ones: for a start, nutritionally speaking they are so much better. The tinned chickpeas lose about 50% of their nutrients. And anyway, is soaking so difficult?
Judging by all the comments following that Guardian article, many people also agree it’s worth it. But there was an equally vociferous group who said they couldn’t be ‘arsed’ to do all that and head for M&S whenever they need a hummus fix!
I’m thrilled with Ottolenghi’s latest cookbook ‘Jerusalem’ which I recently bought in Penzance after I was recommended it by friend Felicity who we stayed with in Cornwall. It’s a beautiful book, I must say, with the kinds of recipes along with terrific photography, that fire me with enthusiasm.
For us here, finding most of the ingredients isn’t a problem luckily, as we use them on a regular basis anyway and I think in the UK at least it has become much easier to find them although Felicity did say that she couldn’t find sumak/sumac….. not that you need it for hummus.
Basic hummus depends on the simplest of ingredients after the chickpeas of course: tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. That’s why it’s a piece of cake to make! It’s getting the amounts just right that’s the trick but you just adjust to your own taste.
Consistency is the other bugbear: do you like your hummus creamy smooth or a little chunky? It’s all in your hands. And as to temperature, it should always be served at room temperature and not straight out of the fridge!
There is a hot version too: maybe you’ve had that in restaurants, again a meze but this time served with slices of pastırma, the local equivalent of pastrami, on top?
Ask for it next time you’re in a kebab place – it’s delicious!
Here is Jerusalem‘s recipe for Hummus with Lemon Sauce. If by any faint chance you’ve never tried your hand at basic hummus before, this is a great recipe to get you going:
- Wash and soak your dried chickpeas in twice their volume of cold water and leave to soak overnight.
- The next day, drain them. Place in a medium saucepan on a high heat and add the drained chickpeas and the bicarbonate of soda. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add 1.5 litres of fresh water and bring to the boil. Cook, skimming off any foam and any skins that float to the surface
- The chickpeas can cook for anywhere between 20-40 minutes, depending on the type and freshness, sometimes even longer. Once done, they should be very tender, breaking up easily when pressed between your thumb and finger, almost but not quite mushy.
- Drain the chickpeas. You should have roughly 600g now. Place the chickpeas in a food processor bowl. Process until you get a stiff paste; then, with the machine still running, add the tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic and 1½ teaspoons of salt.
- Finally, slowly drizzle in the iced water and allow it to mix until you get a very smooth and creamy paste, about 5 minutes.
- Transfer the hummus into a bowl, cover the surface with cling film and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. If not using straight away, refrigerate until needed. Make sure to take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving THIS IS IMPORTANT!