There are as many different hummus recipes out there as there are ways to spell it, and I love to experiment with different flavor combinations on this classic appetizer. Sometimes, though, simple is best and this hummus really stands out on a meze platter. It is just a regular hummus, but using a few different ingredients really makes this recipe soar.
It is really only in the last 5 years or so that hummus has become really popular in the US. It has been eaten in the Middle East, Mediterranean and Europe for much longer than that. It is thought to have originated in Egypt, where it is common to find it flavored with cumin, while in Israel, hummus bi tahina is often eaten for breakfast. The Lebanese also claim to have been the first to eat hummus – and I have even seen a few Lebanese recipes that state eating it warm is best! Some recipes are thick and others are thinner.
Most traditional hummus I have been served are common in that they are usually very, very smooth in texture – quite unlike the tubs you find in most stores. I have a Lebanese friend who always put little dents in the hummus and filled them with copious amounts of olive oil and topped the dish with sumac. In Israel, it was given to me heavily flavored with tahini, and covered in pine nuts. I love the Persian way of adding olives and lots of olive oil. It has always been served to me on a plate, though, never in a bowl, and I have had it with a variety of toppings: fresh parsley or coriander, pine nuts, sumac, green and black olives, lemon and extra chickpeas.
However it is served, the hands-down, best hummus I have eaten over the years is always made with dried – not canned – chickpeas. Although not as convenient, I highly recommend you cook your own chickpeas from scratch. The taste and texture of the hummus will be completely different than if you use canned. Once every month or so, I take a look in my freezer and see what pulses I have stored. I try and keep chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans and a few others always on hand. It’s pretty easy once you get into the routine of cooking pulses once a month and then freezing them. Removing the skins – although time-consuming – really makes a huge difference to the texture as well. It’s pretty easy to do, and if you’d like to try hummus with peeled chickpeas – after cooking and draining, put the chickpeas in a colander over the sink. Run the tap and pick up handfuls of chickpeas, and rub your hands together until the skins come away. Rinse the chickpeas again to get rid of the skins. Not really necessary – but if you are curious as to whether you will notice a difference or not – give it a go! You can also buy dried, skinned, partially cooked chickpeas in some stores.
Hummus is so simple to make – just put everything in the food processor and let it mix together. I was taught that in order to get the texture of the hummus right – you need to let it process for about 5 minutes. I couldn’t believe the difference this made the first time I tried it. It has such a silky, smooth, melt-in-the mouth texture. I usually pop the garlic whole into the food processor and once it’s chopped up, I add the chickpeas and process briefly to break them up. Then I add everything else and process for about 20 seconds. Test and adjust the seasoning, plus the amount of olive oil and water. Once you are happy with the flavor – then it’s time to switch the machine on for 5 minutes – stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides with a spatula.
For me, the quality of the olive oil I use makes another big difference to the finished hummus. There’s a few things I splurge on in the kitchen, and olive oil is one of them. I am particularly fond of oils from Greece – I find they are generally peppery and pungent and fantastic poured onto a dish to finish them off. Use whatever olive oil is your favorite. And do add that little bit of water – either from the cooking liquid, can, or just some filtered water – this will loosen the mix and make for a lighter hummus. Be careful how much you add though – add a tablespoon full at a time.
Give this method a go and see how you like the finished taste and texture. I think you’ll be amazed at just how good this hummus is!
- 2 Cups Cooked Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)*
- 2-3 Cloves Garlic
- Juice and Zest of 1 Organic Lemon
- ¼ Cup Tahini
- ¼ - ⅓ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (to taste)
- ½ t Cumin Powder
- ¼ t Sea Salt
- Cooking Liquid from the Chickpeas/Canned Chickpeas or Filtered Water (thin to desired thickness)**
- Lemon Zest, Sumac, Black Olives and Olive Oil to serve - optional
- Place garlic in food processor and process until finely chopped. Add chickpeas (leaving about a dozen chickpeas for decoration) and pulse briefly to begin breaking up the beans.
- No add both the juice and the all but ½ tsp lemon zest , salt, cumin, the tahini and ¼ cup olive oil. Process until blended - about 20 seconds.
- Add the rest of the olive oil and approx 4 T water.
- Run food processor for about 30 seconds.
- Check the seasoning - adding more salt and olive oil, as needed.
- Check the consistency - if you would like it a little thinner, add a tablespoon of water at a time until desired texture. In this particular batch, at this point, I added 2T more lemon juice (depending on how juicy your lemons are, you may need more or less), another ¼ t salt and 2T more olive oil.
- Now turn on the food processor and leave to process for about 5 minutes. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides. It is this extra processing that gives the hummus a traditional consistency.
- Place in a bowl, cover and place in the fridge for about an hour. The hummus will thicken slightly.
- To serve, spread some hummus on a serving plate, add a few black olives here and there,top with the remaining lemon zest, and drizzle over some more olive oil.
- Add a pinch of sumac (or paprika) over the top, if desired.