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hummusI can’t really remember the first time I had hummus. Being raised in a Deep South  commuter town, whose main highway was hemmed in with strip malls, Burger Kings and Dairy Queens, I seriously doubt it was there. We did have  – and it is still there today – a lone Greek restaurant, but I only ever remember the ubiquitous but very pleasant Greek salad, with its starchy ‘garnish’  of yogurty potato salad as a sop to American tastes. But hummus? I don’t think so. This was the era of aerobics and low fat after all. If I had been more adventurous, and less figure-conscious, I would no doubt have found the hummus and been hooked from the get go. Restaurant hummus is always far superior to that we can make at home. Or, so I thought.

chickpeasIn the (many) intervening years I have flirted with various hummus recipes. They all tasted more or less okay, but never really worth the relative bother when compared to plucking one from the supermarket chiller cabinet, peeling away the cranky plastic lid (why are they always so tricky?) and plunging in a waiting carrot. Convenience over cooking: Guilty as charged.

Occasionally I would pay heed to the label – loads of vegetable oil, sometimes preservatives, LOADS of salt – and have another go. But they were never any more than ‘meh’ in comparison, at least regards texture. The taste was usually better – less salty and oily, real lemon too – but the texture was more akin to something you might build a house with.

Another huge stumbling block was my overnight inability to digest chickpeas. This happened about five years ago, and was a bit of a blow to a diehard legumite like me. I won’t go into the gory details but suffice it to say that, like many an ill-fated romance, I loved them but they didn’t love me back. I persevered – again, like any romantic – but all I got in return was doubled-over pain, and evil looks from my head-shaking family.

Until – until!- I discovered a simple trick: peel the chickpeas. You may be right in thinking that I have totally lost my mind, but I swear, it works. At least for me. I can’t go crazy and eat a whole chickpea-based meal. When I make my Tunisian Chickpea and Vegetable Tagine, or my Summery Chickpea Salad,  I do have to limit myself to a smaller-than-I-would-like portion. But the point is I can now eat chickpeas in moderation, whereas before they were totally off-limits. And I really missed them.chickpea skins

A happy by-product of the peeling trick is that it makes the resulting hummus a helluva lot smoother with less effort, or fancy equipment like a Vitamix (dream on, Kellie). I also read somewhere that blending the add-ins of tahini, lemon and garlic separately, and adding this to the chickpeas also makes things lighter – more ‘supermarket.’ I tried that too, and it worked a treat. I don’t know who to thank for that advice but it is a keeper. So, for little extra effort I have more or less got my perfect hummus.

Do you make your own hummus? Do you have any special tips – adding Greek yogurt, or smoked paprika? What are your favourite dippers to go with it?

Other dip ideas on food to glow: Spinach Phkali, Chermoula White Bean Dip, Pea and Coriander Dip and Butternut Squash and Almond Dip 

foodtoglow hummusMy Perfect Hummus

Last Year: Savoury Beetroot & Cheese Scones

Miss R’s Track of the Week: Pure Love, by Beach of Diamonds (cracking song but rather unsavoury, violent video. Walk away from the computer and just dance!)

This is, as billed, my perfect hummus: smooth, no added oil, plenty of lemon and not too heavy on the garlic. I was inspired my Ottolenghi’s no-added oil version from his latest book with Sami Tamimi, Jerusalem, so I have adopted this trick, but done my way. You can use this simple recipe as a jumping off point for all kinds of snazzy permutations – blend in some roasted peppers, handfuls of parsley, or even go fusion with chipotle chilli in adobo sauce; add in sumac (I’ve sprinkled some over mine) or toasted and ground cumin; use smoked garlic instead of the normal kind, or even some crushed Szechuan peppers (mmm). The upgrades are endless, limited only by imagination.

You will see that I get a bit fiddly with the cooked chickpeas. This is NOT necessary, but for those of you who have a hard time/think they can’t digest chickpeas (I’m raising my hand), skinning the little suckers can really help. I cook the peas as directed, then rinse really well and pop them in a shallow bowl of cool water and just pinch each chickpea of their gut-cobbling carapace. Keeping them in water makes the skinning a doddle. You can also do this with tinned (BPA-free) or jarred chickpeas. All you do is pop them in a pan of boiling water for a few minutes, then proceed as described. It really works! Pain-free hummus.

200g dried chickpeas/garbanzo beans
6 tbsp light tahini paste (I use Cypressa)
5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tsp salt (smoked salt would be nice)
120ml cold water
Your best extra virgin olive oil, for serving
Pinch of ground sumac or za’atar, for serving (optional)

Pan-toasted pinenuts, for serving (optional

Prep time: 10 minutes (20 minutes if you skin the chickpeas)
Soaking time: overnight*

Total cooking time: 55 minutes – 1½ hours

1. Rinse and soak the uncooked chickpeas in a big bowl of cold water. Cover and leave overnight, or for 12 hours. If you are in a rush you can use 2 tins of chickpeas (see recipe introduction). Or – what I often do* – pop the raw peas into a thick-walled, tight-lidded pan (ie, pressure cooker) and cover with just-boiled water. Shut the lid and leave for 2 hours. Rinse thoroughly and proceed as directed. I do this with most overnight soakers, with the exception of kidney beans.

2. The next morning – or whenever you go to make the hummus – rinse the chickpeas thoroughly and pop into a large pan and cover more than double with fresh cold water. Bring to the boil and cook briskly for 10 minutes before lowering the heat and simmering until done – between 45 minutes and an hour and a half. Skim away any foam or skins that arise during cooking. The cooking time will depend on the tricky-to know age of the chickpeas. Older ones will take longer. I always check the ‘best before’ date on the bag and get the bag with the longest date. Health food stores often have a better turnover so you may get ‘better’ chickpeas there.

3. Chickpeas are cooked when still intact but will crush easily between your fingers when pinched. Rinse thoroughly in a colander. Now this is where it can get fiddly, or if you aren’t troubled with legume ‘digestive issues’ just skip to the next step. I pour the cooked chickpeas into a shallow bowl of water and stand beside it another bowl. Take each chickpea and lightly pinch the ends until the skins pop off. It is quite meditative and weirdly satisfying to see a growing pile of hazy skins.

4. Now this is a bit of a different trick, one that may just make things closer to creamy, light hummus perfection: blending the lemon, garlic, water and salt separately BEFORE adding into the chickpeas. If you have a mini chopper (usually comes with hand/immersion blenders) bung the tahini etc in and puree until smooth. Otherwise just use a small whisk and blend well in a small bowl.

5. Pop the chickpeas into your food processor and process for a few seconds to break them up a bit. Remove the lid and add in the tahini mixture. Process – with lid on! – for a few seconds, then slowly add the cold water. Keep the processor going an unfeasibly long time – up to four minutes – to get super smooth hummus. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed – maybe more salt or lemon.

6. Transfer the hummus to a serving dish, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sumac or za’atar and the pine nuts. Serve with toasted/griddled pitta bread or crunchy raw vegetables. A beautiful accompaniment to roasted lamb or smoothed on a Peter’s Yard crispbread (my personal weakness). This will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

Serves: 6 as an appetizer

Nutrition Notes: We have known for some time that dried peas and beans help prevent seven types of cancer, balance blood sugar, decrease cardiovascular disease risk and help control weight (they are very filling, but not particularly calorific). In fact, most public health bodies recommend specifically mention legumes for preventing disease and optimising health (rather than lump them in with plant food in general).

Several studies have found that having four to eight one-cup servings of legumes a week is health-promoting: the official US recommendation is 1/2 a cup – per week. Many of us consume a lot less than is optimal so this will seem daunting, but really, any increase will be beneficial. This goes for vegetables too – aim for higher than the government recommended amount for optimal health benefit, but any increase is useful. If you aren’t used to eating beans more than occasionally, do add them in slowly so that the gut is not overwhelmed by the sudden increase in fibre.

The main nutrients in chickpeas specifically are dietary fibre manganese, molybendum, folate, iron, phosphorus and copper. Chickpeas of course contain protein but they, like other legumes, are low in the amino acid (building block) methionine, so need to be eaten with some kind of grain or grain product to get this. Permission to have pitta bread! Incidentally, unlike a lot of tinned foods, chickpeas retain most of their primary nutrients during processing. For more comprehensive information on chickpeas and other legumes, try this link to World’s Healthiest Foods.foodtoglow hummusfoodtoglow hummus on bread

59 thoughts on “My Quest for Perfect Hummus

  1. I haven’t made hummus for ages. Used to do bucket loads when my sons were at home, the younger one also made it himself, he really loves it. No special tips, sometimes I like to under process some chick peas and add in so you get nice chunky bits in amongst the smooth, but otherwise similar to your recipe.

    1. Hi Janice. Yes, having some extra ones to leave a bit chunky is nice, especially if it is going with something smooth, just to add variety in the mouth.

  2. Mmmmm. I love me some hummus! I’ve done the chickpea peeling thing before – sometimes I have patience for it and sometimes not. I’ve never tried blending the add ins separately though, I’ll have to give that a whirl. I’m glad chickpeas are back in your life, even if in moderation!

    1. I always have to have the patience now, but it is worth it for a few spoonfuls of this creamy beige heaven. What are we like?

  3. Now you’re talkin! I think hummus is the one thing that I would take on a desert island (or a dessert island) if I could only choose one thing.
    One word to those who are tempted to use chick peas in a can…..DON”T DO IT! (OK three words) The flavor from prepared chick peas makes your hummus supreme. I repeat….DON”T DO IT!

    On St.Patrick’s Day or Christmas or if I want a little color in my life I add about 1/4 cup fresh chopped curly parsley. It gives hummus a beautiful greenish hue. (For Christmas serve with thick pieces of fresh red peppers)

    Great post!

    1. I have suggested parsley too so we must be on the same wavelength (different reasons). I give tinned chickpeas as an option because I have found decent prepared ones here in the UK, but I always rinse and give them a quick five minute boil too. And I like to give people more than one option if you are time poor or occasionally a bit disorganised (me!). I do appreciate your insistence that home boiled IS indeed more flavoursome though

  4. windykitchen says:

    Interesting! I’ve only made hummus a handful of times, but I’ve always just simmered the chickpeas briefly just to heat them up and make them more mashable. But if you’re going for the ultimate silky-smooth texture, you’re probably right that peeling is the way to go. Good tip!

    1. Oh, you must try the from-scratch scratch version, if you know what I mean. As others have commented, it’s usually better than canned, even with the same recipe. YOu just have that much more control. But even just peeling the skins will make a world of difference. I have experimented a bit more since the pictures were taken and I find that 4 minutes whirring in the food processor just sends it over the edge into my idea of perfection. experiment to find yours. Thanks for commenting. I appreciate it

  5. Jacqueline says:

    That looks like my wee pile from the other day when I was skinning baby broad beans. Quite therapeutic really. Unusual idea to blend separately, must try that. Glad you reached a solution of sorts, hummus is yum!

    1. Thanks Miss Jacqueline. What did you do with your baby broad beans? Were they from the freezer? I haven’t seen them here fresh, that I recall. I have only recently this year embraced my inner broad bean love and would like more recipes for them x

  6. I’ve been thinking of making my own hummus for ages, thanks for the inspiration and detailed steps, and yes, I will be peeling mine!

    1. That’s great to hear. If you have a moment let me know if you make it and how it went.

  7. aliyajade says:

    I love your photos!
    I make loads of hummus-being a half Lebanese I was pretty much given it at birth! Thank you for including garlic-is is so necessary and not many shop varieties include it. The best shop-bought one I have ever tried is Sabra, which is an Israeli brand-really smooth and delicious.
    My best tip is if you want really smooth hummus, you have to use dried and not tinned chickpeas. It takes longer, but the result is always better. Is it also super cheap.

    1. I definitely prefer cooking from dried peas. And with two decent ways to go about it (long soak or quick soak) it doesn’t have to be an inconvenient option. And the result is SO much better. I have tried Sabra and it is very smooth. So, if you as a Lebanese say it’s good then any cheating I might do in the future will be with Sabra! Thanks so much for commenting and giving your wise advice.

  8. Humous is always my ‘go to’ quick, lazy, but healthy lunch option. I love to add a bit of heat and colour with a dash of chili powder, and my favorite thing to dip in is sliced apple.

    1. That is an original dipper! I must try it 😀 I love it spicy too. We sometimes add a dod of very hot south African sauce from Bim’s Kitchen in London (got it at Borough Market), which I think you may be trying tomorrow night during your culinary Russian roulette game. It’s outstanding and so flavourful, as well as blow your socks off hot. I hope you like it x

  9. Kellie, your hummus looks and sounds the BEST. I do make my own but have not used dried chick peas (as I, too, might end up doubled over). So many store bought versions are so disappointing… I think the right combination of lemon, garlic and oil is important, together with the sumac or paprika. Thank you for sharing your recipe, definitely going to try this.

    1. Ah, a fellow sufferer. Poor you. It’s a pest, isn’t it. Let me know if you try it and how it is for you – taste-wise and tum-wise. Thanks for commenting my lovely. Any reprieve from the heat down your way?

  10. tamlynnsbs says:

    I ordered Tahini from the same place I get my vitimans. I wonder how long it lasts? I only made hummus once. Do you have any reciepes that use Tahini?

    1. Thanks for stopping by. The tahini should last for ages if you keep it in a cool, dark place. As for recipes, you could do worse that make my Za’atar Aubergine and Onion Salad with Tahini-Garlic Dressing: look in the index under Salads. But beware, it was in my earlier blogging days and the intro rambles on a bit. Or more so than I do now. But it is a great little recipe. Tahnini’s biggest use in the West is in hummus, but use it in other dips, in salad dressing, mixed with honey and spread on hot toast or stuffed into dates. Check out Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes on the internet as he specialises in accessible Middle Eastern food and you will find inspiration and recipes there.

  11. I bet that hummus is amazing! I have yet to take the time to peel chickpeas but one of my secrets for perfect hummus is to make it while the cooked chickpeas are hot and use some of the chickpea cooking liquid (seasoned with garlic, parsley and salt) to loosen it up. Now, I am hungry.

    1. Oh, I know that using the liquid does help with smoothness – and I used to do it a bit – but these days I have to rinse away all traces of raffinose, the worst of the gut-wrenching sugars. Hot chickpeas a must. Even if using canned they ideally should be warmed through to help achieve fluffy perfection. Mmm. I’ve just had breakfast but I am now tempted to go to the fridge and scoop me some hummus!

  12. Eha says:

    Have loved hommus for decades and usually made my own. Start with dried chickpeas soaked overnight, but usually have not had the time to peel. Love heaps of garlic so would use a tad more than you. Sumac, chilli &/or za’atar sometimes, paprika not for me: individual likes. Fun addendum: watched Jamie O make it for one of 15-minute meals: guess what – substituted peanut butter for tahini [as many people do not automatically keep it at home] and pronounced it great: have not had the time to try but shall – don’t think one could call it hommus tho’ 😀 ? Meanwhile would have the stuff in the fridge 360 days a year!!!

    1. I sometimes make hummus – and other dips (eg my butternut squash and almond one, also the pea and coriander one) – with almond butter. LOVE its taste and ability to go sweet or savoury with ease. But call it hummus? Nah, don’t think so. We need to come up with a name for it though, don’t we? What’s arabic for almond butter, I wonder? I gave my daughter the Jamie O. 15 minute book (for me really!) but haven’t really had a look so I will have to see his comments about it.

      1. Eha says:

        JO’s 15 – I collect cookery books and have over 1/2 of his. Like this the best, ’cause it’s fun and healthy and ‘real’ food and sensible and . . .’ Never mind the 15 mins, none of us have fairies in the kitchen to give us a hand, but the food is gloriously informal and tasty . . . enjoy!!!

  13. I found hummus turns out best an super fluffy if is about half chickpeas and half tahini rather than mostly chickpeas with a tahini accent. Also blend the tahini and lemon juice first in a blender until fluffy. Then add the chickpeas to that and blend some more. It will be very creamy.

    There is never just one recipe for hummus ! Everyone makes it a little different and there are soapy delicious versions !

    1. I think hummus really is personal taste thing, and like you say, there is never just one recipe for hummus just as there is never a definitive version of brownies. I recommend the pre-blending thing too but I like the chickpeas to shine through rather than the tahini. And some will like more garlic, whereas I favour more lemony tang. Thanks for your ideas and wisdom

  14. I’ve never heard of peeling chickpeas before but I do it very often with broad beans – quite a cathartic process I feel and often accompanied by a wee glass of wine and some music.I do love hummus but very rarely make it but I’ll keep your very tempting recipe in mind for the next time I give it a go.

    1. I think because the skins aren’t at all obvious in the uncooked state, and often times you don’t notice them in tinned ones, it’s easy to miss them. But it does make a big difference to digestibility and texture. But of course some folk are commenting that they like chunkier hummus so the smoothness may not be much of a selling point for skinning the chickpeas. Now that I’ve cottoned onto this easy, wine-friendly task (!) I will be increasing my bean intake. Thanks for stopping by Jacqueline. I hope you are well, wherever you are!

  15. I love hummus, but I don’t mind if it is chunky, and in fact prefer it a bit chunky. Instead of tahini I typically use sunflower seed butter as I find I have more uses for it than tahini. I love to blend in black garlic into mine and also char roasted red bell peppers. MMM, Might have to make some for lunch now. My fave sandwich is hummus, grilled halloumi, grilled peppers and rocket on sourdough or ciabatta. Love the toasted pinenuts on top of yours!

  16. Deborah D. says:

    I am a hummus addict as well! And like you, it doesn’t agree with me. This is a must try for me, as i try to incorporate beans every week into my menu! Removing the skins is a no brainer if it does what you say it does! 🙂 Happy to have come across this tiny bit of heavely info! Thanks for sharing! Trying this out this weekend!

    1. I hope it works! Please rinse them very well before and after skinning. It helps me enjoy them in moderation but I expect it mightn’t work for everyone. Would you mind letting me know if it does the trick or not?

  17. shuhan says:

    woahh I thought I knew hummus; you’ve certainly taken it to another level! good one! good tips all round 🙂

    1. Well, it is just my tweaks to make it more enjoyable for me and I just hope that the peeling trick works for others. I am glad you appreciate my research

  18. Do you have a trick for making the garlic not overly sharp in the recipe? Whenever I try and make it at home that is the problem I have. I have never heard of peeling the beans but it makes since that would make it smoother but it does seem like a lot of work, I am sure it is worth it for you since you can’t eat them otherwise.

    1. Hi Emilia. Good question. I think that if you blanch the garlic for about 30 seconds or so you might get softer garlic. Or saute for the same time. Hope one works for you.

    2. Urvashi Roe says:

      Have you tried removing the garlic’s central stalk? It takes the bitterness away and also means you don’t smell of garlic. Trick I learned in Rome in cooking class from the local chef

      1. I have not tried that. Thanks. I have tried blanching/poaching the garlic and have not had a lot of success with that, but I will definitely try the idea of removing the central stalk. Thanks.

      2. Yes, that was a good idea about the central stalk. I hadn’t heard that. It was good that Urvashi saw your comment. She knows her stuff about plants.

  19. Urvashi Roe says:

    This looks stunning! I always use olive oil so I’m going to try this one soon. It’s such a staple in our house but I must admit to getting lazy and getting the “proper” stuff from our local Turkish supermarket. It’s a real delight to get all the different mezze and lay it out on a crisp white tablecloth and pick over a long and lazy lunch. Perfect Sunday

  20. The photo at the end of your post is truly beautiful! We both love hummus, and do find it hard to find “store bought” to be actual healthy, so thanks for this recipe. I had some really really good hummus in Abu Dhabi while there working. They make their own, in this little organic cafe / coffee shop place where I had the best lunch of my entire visit. All of the food was fabulous, Arabic, and totally intriguingly authentic. Plus, the guys explained it all to me! How nice was that?!?! LOL!

  21. Choclette says:

    I’ve never made a super smooth hummus and whilst I like the idea, I don’t think I’m likely to ever get around to peeling the chickpeas. I guess if that was the only way I could eat them, maybe I would. Yours does look good though. I learnt to make it when I visited Egypt at 17. I usually add cumin to the mix and sometimes swap the lemons for limes, which gives quite a different flavour.

  22. I’ve been on the hunt for a good hummus recipe too. I love eating it but find the commercialized, packaged stuff from the grocery store is subpar. I can’t wait to try this.

  23. kellysiew says:

    That is one fantastic looking hummus! I haven’t made one for ages, and now I have cravings!

  24. laura_howtocook says:

    I could live by humus & pitta bread alone for days. It is such a wonderful dip and my kids love it too. I used to have to make industrial quantities of the stuff when I worked for Fresh & Wild, a healthy food chain that got bought out by Whole Foods I think. They never used to put in enough lemon in my opinion but then again hummus is something we can all tailor to suit our individual tastes. Yours looks just super, I will be trying it out and one of my students wants a recipe for it so this would suit her too!

  25. aprohl5 says:

    Just made this recipe with a few small changes. First time I have ever made a hummus that I thought was worth taking the time to make. Blending it for such a long time made all the difference. You are a genius! Thank You!

  26. Sally says:

    I actually have a post in my drafts with the same title. I’ve lived in the Middle East for 18 years and have been trying to perfect it. Ottolenghi’s recipe in Jerusalem comes close….but the big difference was making in my Vitamix. The powerful blending makes the texture sublime.

    1. How I long for a Vitamix! I bet all your dips and soups are like velvet ;D

  27. Natalie Ward says:

    Your huumus looks so pretty with the pine nuts & sumac on top. I’m doing that next time defintely. I’m so glad you’ve found the trick 🙂 it is super fiddly but sooo worth it. I’m going to try with dried next time and see the difference. I would also LOVE a Vitamix but hey 😉

  28. Your hummus looks amazing Kellie. What a pity you need to peel the skins – it sounds so fiddly. But obviously worth it, judging by the results.

  29. ruralwifie says:

    we grow our own runner beans and at the end of the season I pod out the beans and dry them – they are a beautiful deep pink colour with black specks- and I use them to make my own variety of hummus [with tahini garlic and lemon juice]. the colour is slightly pink [in the way that chick pea hummus is slightly yellow] but the taste is delicious. They make a super bean soup too and a great addition to Portuguese kale soup

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