Hummus, done well, is one of the loveliest things in the world.
For a while there, a few years back, I was a little obsessed with hummus perfection. I called it my ‘hummus mission’. Michael called it ‘annoying dried chickpeas rehydrating constantly on the bench top’. Well, he didn’t really say those words. Not exactly. He is far more patient than I give him credit for, but I could read in the play that these are the words he wanted to say were he not such a patient man. Instead, he would simply roll his eyes at his decreasing breakfast space and give me a half smile and say “I really love you and your quirky annoying ways, my darling wife.” Well, he didn’t really say those words either. Not exactly.
If you have the Relish Mama cookbook, you will hopefully have tried my hummus recipe. It is an absolute winner. This is also the recipe I teach in some of our classes as part of our mezze dishes. For this recipe, I make sure to use really good quality canned chickpeas that are preserved in water and salt, and contain no artificial preservatives. It pays to spend a little bit more. The results are always truly wonderful and means no eye rolling is required by partners who object to dried chickpeas rehydrating on bench tops.
When time is on my side and I have forethought (something I don’t have a lot of these days with our busy life), I really do love soaking dried chickpeas overnight and cooking my hummus obsession the following day. I can then also reserve some of the cooked chickpeas to be placed at the centre for my hummus showpiece.
If you want to know how many grams of cooked chickpeas a certain weight dried chickpeas will yield (approximately), multiply the dried weight by 2.2 (so 100g dried chickpeas x 2.2 = 220g cooked chickpeas)
How do you like your hummus?
Very best hummus
110g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight**
(this 110g dried chickpeas, once cooked, yields the same as 1 x 400g tin of drained and rinsed chickpeas. Drained chickpeas weigh 240g – I told you I had a hummus obsession!)
¼ cup (60ml) fresh lemon juice, about 1 large lemon
1/4 cup (60 ml) tahini
Half of a large garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt, depending on taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 to 3 tablespoons water (if making hummus using dried chickpeas, you would use as much of your reserved cooking liquid here as needed)
To top – my favourite options are some reserved whole chickpeas in the centre. Also, add a dash of sumac, smoked paprika, and a swirl of extra virgin olive oil.
If you are making hummus with dried chickpeas, soak the chickpeas overnight in plenty of cold water (a minimum of 12 hours soaking time). The following day, drain the water and place chickpeas in a large saucepan and add double the volume of water. For each 250g of dried chickpeas, add 1 teaspoon (5g) of bicarb soda to the water. This acts as a softening agent and makes for a super creamy hummus.
Don’t be tempted to add more as it robs the chickpeas of their amazing nutritional value as well as giving a slightly soapy taste. Don’t be tempted to add salt to the water as it can make the chickpeas tough.
Bring the pot to the boil and then cook over medium heat for between 1 – 1.5 hours. The chickpeas are ready when they are lovely and soft. You obviously need to taste – one of the perks of being the cook. Drain the liquid, but keep some as you will need it when making the hummus.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine tahini and lemon juice. Process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl then turn on and process for 30 seconds. This extra time helps “whip” or “cream” the tahini, making smooth and creamy hummus possible.
Add the olive oil, garlic, cumin and the salt to the whipped tahini and lemon juice. Process for 30 seconds, scrape sides and bottom of bowl then process another 30 seconds.
If using canned chickpeas, drain liquid then rinse well with water. If using chickpeas you have soaked and cooked, add chickpeas to the food processor then process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl, add remaining chickpeas and process for 1 to 2 minutes or until thick and quite smooth.
Most likely the hummus will be too thick or still have tiny bits of chickpea. To fix this, with the food processor turned on, slowly add 2 to 3 tablespoons of reserved cooking water (or water from the tap if using canned chickpeas) until the consistency is perfect. You will have a superior hummus if you’re able to use the reserved cooking liquid.
Scrape the hummus into a beautiful serving dish and use a spoon to make a little well in the centre. Add a few whole cooked chickpeas to the centre then drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the top and sprinkle lightly with sumac or smoked paprika.
**You can always soak and cook more dried chickpeas than required. You can freeze cooked chickpeas and even freeze the cooking liquid, in batches. Genius, I tell you!