Creamy Israeli-style Hummus
Having spent two-and-a-half years living in Israel, I spent many of my weekends trying all the different types of hummus there was on offer across the country. Each different restaurant, always quaint and never exactly aesthetically pleasing, had their own take on what makes a good hummus dish.
There's all sorts of combinations of the dish - hummus ful which is served with fava beans on top, hummus meshulash, meaning triangle, which is normally a combination of hummus, ful and masabacha, a type of warm hummus, hummus with mushrooms - the possibilities are endless!
All of them would be a world away from the hummus you find in a tub at a supermarket - you wouldn't find a crudité in sight (except maybe a raw onion which is used to scoop the hummus like a spoon).
However, despite being the go to dish of the country, actually making it is a different question. I tried and tried to make a great bowl myself, but it'd be too lumpy, too bland and often missing that 'je ne sais quoi' - the way food can transport you to a time or place just by its taste. But fear not, after many attempts, I've found the perfect way to bring this little slice of the Middle East to you wherever you may be in the world.
Here's what you need:
[To make 4 good sized bowls of Hummus]
1 cups dried chickpeas (trust me, don't use canned)
1/2 cup tahini
1 lemon (more if desired)
3-4 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon cumin + more to serve
1 tablespoon baking soda + a little extra for later
Paprika for serving
1. Pour the chickpeas into a sieve and give them a good wash a handful of times until the water runs clear. Stick them in to a bowl and cover them with water, add the tablespoon of baking soda and leave them overnight.
2. The next day, give them a rinse once again and soak them for a few more hours in tap water. The chickpeas will have doubled in size and be ready to be cooked.
3. Wash the chickpeas again and put them in a large pot, cover with water, add a pinch more baking soda and add the bay leaf and the garlic cloves. Don't worry about peeling the cloves, the heat will do all the work for you. Don't add any salt at this stage, it's not needed!
4. Cook them in the pot for 1 - 1.5 hours until the peas are soft enough to press between two fingers - you don't want them to be mushy, they still need some bite. During the cooking process, you'll notice a foam forming on top of the water from the baking soda - you want to scoop this off as you go along (just dump it into a bowl next to the stove). This helps with a creamy texture when you're finished.
5. Once they're cooked, drain the chickpeas but MAKE SURE TO KEEP THE COOKING WATER. This is one of the most important parts of cooking the chickpeas from scratch.
6. Save a few handfuls of the cooked chickpeas for the topping and put the rest into a food processor (you can also use an immersion blender for this stage). Fish out the bay leaf and chuck it and find your garlic cloves (and chuck their skin away) and put them in with the chickpeas.
7. Grind them well until they form a thick paste-like consistency. Leave them to cool down a little while before continuing.
8. Once cooler, add the tahini, the juice of the lemon, about a ladle full of the chickpea cooking water, the cumin, salt and olive oil and blend. Taste as you go along and work out if it needs more lemon, more salt etc.
9. If the hummus is too thick, add some more of the water, if it's too loose, add some more tahini. You want it to be quite thin but not runny.
10. Once done, place a large spoonful into a flat bowl and smooth it out like you were ladling sauce onto a pizza. Add the cooked chickpeas on top, some chopped parsley, olive oil, a sprinkle of paprika and cumin and voila, done.
Serve with warm pita and if you're brave enough, the raw onion.
If you made this, let me know how it tasted in the comments - Ben.