Saturday, March 28, 2009

Home with Hummus: a Recipe

When I make hummus I think of my family. It was a staple in my home throughout my youth, years before hummus started appearing on every menu and in every supermarket in plastic tubs. When I was off on my own in college, it was the first recipe I wanted from my mother. I remember accidentally dumping huge quantities of cayenne into the mix, and, instead of sharing gracefully with my roommates as planned, I was forced to slowly work through my first attempt at this nourishing dip myself, eyes tearing all the while. Homemade hummus, with lots of lemons and cumin, and now, the right touch of cayenne, is home to me.

My mother's version is very different than the creamy more-tahini-than-chickpea type I had in Lebanon. Her version, my version, is chunky and it is thick. I make a big bowl of it at the beginning of the week and vary how I eat it. Some days I eat it for breakfast on some toast. Some days I spread it thick on sprouted hemp bread, top it with tomatoes and sunflower sprouts, and pack it as a sandwich for lunch. If I am not too hungry, I'll eat it for dinner with a nice bowl of soup and some warm, crusty bread. This dish is so delicious and inexpensive to make, why buy that small, preservative-laden supermarket tub again?


3-4 cups of dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water
2-4 cloves of garlic, depending on your taste
3/4 of a jar of tahini
the juice of 8 lemons
water, for thinning the hummus
3-4 tablespoons of ground cumin
1-2 tablespoons of paprika
salt, to taste
parsley, paprika, cayenne, cumin and olive oil for garnish

Put the chickpeas in a heavy-bottomed pan and cover them by about an inch and a half with cold water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook them until they are tender but not mushy. Let them cool.

In a food processor (you might need to do this in two batches, halving the ingredients), add the garlic first, then the cooked chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and water, thinning the beans to a smooth but chunky paste. Add the cumin, paprika, and salt, to taste. Remove the spread to a bowl, drizzle olive oil on top, and garnish with the fresh herbs and dried spices.