Hummus

The first rule of Hummus is that you do not talk about Hummus. Therefore, once this post has been published, my life may be in danger. Such is my commitment to you that I will post it anyway, with little regard to my own safety. You see, publishing a hummus recipe is akin to a declaration of war in my family.

In fact, I think this is probably true of the Middle East in general. There is actually a ‘Hummus Blog‘ that claims to be an authority on the subject. It’s run by Israelis and I admit my Palestinian blood boils just a bit at the thought that they might be co-opting an Arab dish. Hummus is, after all, the Arabic word for chickpeas (aka garbanzos). Goodness, do you see what I mean? If we can’t even agree on hummus, what hope is there for the ‘Two-State Solution’?

But let’s leave politics aside and (as the Israeli hummus guys say) ‘give chickpeas a chance’. My family is my immediate concern. My dad and brothers each claim to make THE BEST HUMMUS. Brother A loads his with cumin and other spices, Dad probably puts ginger in his (he puts ginger in everything these days) and Brother R – well I haven’t tasted his hummus lately but I’m sure he’ll write and tell me just as soon as he reads this. And when we visit Seattle this summer, there will inevitably be a full-blown Hummus War. Well, now that I’ve thrown down the gauntlet, there’s no choice but to proceed…


Basic Hummus

(Yields about 2 cups)

What You Need:

1 standard (400g or 14oz) can chickpeas (garbanzos), along with 1/2 cup of the chickpea ‘juice’
5 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp lemon juice (about the juice of 1 lemon)
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp salt

What You Do:

1. Drain the chickpeas, retaining 1/2 cup of the juice from the can. If you forget, then you can use regular water.
2. Put the chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice and salt into a blender (if using) or a large bowl (if using a hand blender as I did).
3. Start to blend on low and add in the chickpea juice little by little until you have the consistency you want. You might not need all of it.
4. Taste and adjust lemon, salt and/or garlic accordingly.
5. To serve, spread it out on a plate or flat bowl, sprinkle with paprika and drizzle with olive oil. Add a few olives, chickpeas or a sprig of parsley for decoration.

Notes for Next Time:

1. My hummus is very basic, or ‘pure’ as I like to think of it. I used to make it on the chunky and lemony side, as I like it, but Hubby prefers it with lots of tahini and very smooth, sprinkled with paprika. I love him, so I do it his way now. Use my recipe as a template to create your own favourite blend.
2. Contrary to the hummus you’ll find in western supermarkets, delis and restaurants, traditional recipes don’t use too much garlic. Start with 1 clove, then add more if you want.
3. Contrary to the Hummus Blog ‘gurus’, I do use canned chickpeas. You don’t have to, and if you want to use dried then check out their excellent tips on how to do that. My thinking is that hummus should be enjoyed, even at the spur of the moment, not agonised over. I always have canned chickpeas in the cupboard – you never know when you might want to whip up a quick dip for tortilla chips, or an appetiser or side dish.
4. A traditional decoration for hummus is to keep a few chickpeas whole and then place them on the top before serving. I keep forgetting to do that (and blend them all up), so my default is to use olives instead. It really doesn’t matter. You see, the second rule of Hummus is, mercifully, that there are no rules. Enjoy!

Too chunky – keep blending

If it passes the ‘stand-up’ test then it’s good to go!

Now THAT’s Hummus!