It has taken me a long time to get around to whipping up my own homemade batch of hummus from scratch.
One reason is because I live in Dubai, which means that I have easy access to good prepared hummus virtually everywhere I go, from supermarkets to take-aways to restaurants. They vary in quality, at best lightly whipped and flavorful and at worst heavy but still tasty. I recognise that this is a poor excuse and just constitutes laziness on my part.
The other reason it has taken me a while to make homemade hummus is because I think I over-researched the recipe. I discovered that what I thought would be a simple and quick recipe is actually a very hotly debated topic with different people having their own strong opinions on the technique which leads to the smoothest and airiest hummus.
All the recipes agreed on one thing – you need to use a food processor to blend the ingredients together for really nicely whipped hummus. But that’s where the agreement ends.
Tinned Chickpeas vs Fresh Chickpeas: The first thing to consider is whether to use tinned chickpeas or freshly boiled. I have made hummus using both and I can say that good quality tinned chickpeas will make good hummus. You certainly shouldn’t feel guilty about using tinned chickpeas if you’re pressed for time or just don’t feel like soaking and boiling up a batch of chickpeas. I was very happy with my tinned chickpea hummus – that is, until I made some hummus using freshly boiled chickpeas. I warn you, once you make hummus with freshly boiled chickpeas there is no turning back. There is a marked difference in taste and texture, the entire dish is raised to a higher standard. I will now never feel too lazy to soak chickpeas the night before because for me the taste difference is worth that extra effort. I follow the advice of some cooks (including my mother) to add some bicarbonate of soda to both the soaking water and also the boiling water to help the chickpeas soften more quickly, and it works a treat!
Peeled Chickpeas vs Unpeeled Chickpeas: Another debate raging in the world of hummus is whether to remove the skin from the chickpeas or not. I have read several blogs which insist that removing the skin of the chickpeas makes for the smoothest hummus, if you don’t mind adding about 10 minutes to your preparation time. Others don’t bother peeling them at all and just throw them into the food processor whole. I tend to fall on the side of the non-peelers, partly due to time and partly due to my feeling that the skin is often full of fiber so I want to keep it.
Which Order To Put The Ingredients In: There are those who insist that you need to put the ingredients into the food processor in a specific order. One recipe I found insists that the secret to perfect hummus is to first blend the lemon and tahini paste until it becomes a light frothy emulsion before adding the other ingredients. My attempt at this technique did not work at all, possibly because the bowl of my food processor is quite big and the blades barely touched the lemon and tahini which stayed puddled at the bottom. I am always looking for time-saving steps, and it’s my opinion that throwing all the ingredients into the food processor is the right way to go. It certainly doesn’t stop my hummus from ending up lightly and airy.
When to Add the Extra Virgin Olive Oil: One ingredient I do leave out of the food processor is extra virgin olive oil. Many recipes blend olive oil directly into the hummus, but one of my favorite chefs, Yotam Ottolenghi, is adamant that the oil should only be drizzled over the top of the hummus after it has been plated. I have tried both ways, and leaving the extra virgin olive oil out of the hummus does result in a lighter and fluffier hummus with a mouthwatering savoriness. Drizzling plenty of good extra virgin olive oil on top of the hummus means that the oil can soak nicely into your dipping bread while you scoop up your hummus.
Other Additions: Some people add other flavors to their hummus like cumin, but I like to keep the flavors very clean and tart. At most, a sprinkling of sumac powder makes it looks pretty. I also try to save a few whole chickpeas to use as garnish and if I happen to have some pomegranate seeds, I throw them on for color.
My 6-year-old daughter is a hummus aficianado (she was brought up on the stuff) and is very particular about the taste and texture. She was the one who made me aware that the hummus with the olive oil blended in was not as light and airy as the one with the olive oil drizzled on top. She is my harshest hummus critic and, of all the variations I tried, this is the recipe which she approved of and the one that I’m sticking with.
Write your comment below: If you make homemade hummus, what are your special tips and tricks?
(If you double the recipe, then you need to double the quantity of all ingredients EXCEPT the bicarbonate of soda which should remain the same)
240g / 8oz cooked chickpeas
– To make freshly cooked chickpeas, you need 140g dried chickpeas, 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda, and some water (cooking instructions below)
– 1 can of cooked chickpeas in water (400g can / 240g drained weight) (14 oz can / 8 oz drained weight)
1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (no seeds)
1 plump garlic clove, cut into 6 pieces
1 tsp coarse sea salt
2-4 Tbsp cold water (2 Tbsp is better if your chickpeas are quite soft and mushy; 4 Tbsp is better if your chickpeas are quite firm)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (for drizzling on top of the hummus)
Some sumac powder to sprinkle on top as a garnish
- If you want to make hummus using freshly cooked chickpeas, you need to soak 140g / 8oz of dried chickpeas in a medium-sized bowl filled with water and 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda for 12-24 hours. Drain the chickpeas after soaking and discard the water. Put your chickpeas in a medium-sized pot and cover with cool water. Add 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda and bring the water to the boil. Simmer uncovered for 40-6o minutes, skimming off the foam as necessary. When the chickpeas are soft and mushy, drain the water. Some people like to retain some cooking water to add to the hummus instead of adding plain water, but I am not one of those people so I just discard all the water.
- If you want to make hummus using tinned chickpeas, pop open your tin, drain the chickpeas in a colander, and rinse.
- Weigh out 240g / 8oz of cooked chickpeas and pour them into your food processor (Important: Save a few chickpeas to use as a garnish).
- Into the food processor, add 1/4 cup tahini, 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (no seeds), 1 plump garlic clove cut into 6 pieces, 1 tsp coarse sea salt, and some cold water (2 Tbsp of water if your chickpeas are soft and mushy (like mine); 4 Tbsp if your chickpeas are quite firm. The water will help make your hummus light and airy, but if you add too much it will get too thin. You can always start with less water and add more if you need to).
- Switch on your food processor for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides if necessary. Process for another minute or so, until the hummus is smooth and light.
- Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary (you can add more tahini, lemon juice or salt but for me these measurements are exactly right).
- Spoon the hummus out of the food processor bowl onto a small flat plate. Spread it evenly, and then run your spoon through the hummus in a circle to make a well to pour some good extra virgin olive oil into.
- Sprinkle some sumac powder around the edges of the hummus. Garnish with chickpeas and pomegranate seeds (optional).
- Eat immediately, or refrigerate for upto 3 days.