I’m here today to share exactly what the internet needs: another white girl’s hummus recipe. I’ve been making hummus since time immemorial (aka 2013) and I like to think that over the years I’ve managed to perfect the art. Perhaps its just flattery, but my hummus does tend to get good reviews from those who’ve tried it, and I’ve been asked countless times for the recipe, which until now I’ve never written down.
Hummus is a product which, once you start making your own, you will never revert to store-bought. Not only does homemade hummus taste vastly superior, it’s also definitely much cheaper per gram, and certainly healthier as it lacks the bizarre additives that some brands deem necessary.
Because it is my responsibility as a blogger to share my life story before giving you the actual recipe, I’ll start with a couple of top tips I’ve learned over the years in my quest to create the perfect homemade hummus:
1- Cooking your own chickpeas is the superior method
It took me a good couple of years to come round to doing this, partly because I’m lazy and was sharing flats (cooking chickpeas have a distinct and not extraordinarily pleasant smell) and partly because I never knew where in Hong Kong to buy dried chickpeas. Now I only share a flat with Tom, who is locked into a no-breakup contract, so I can cook away!
Even before I started cooking the chickpeas from scratch, I’ve long avoided the tinned variety – the texture is just weird and wrong, and results in a lumpy hummus. If you cba to cook chickpeas, try buying jarred Arab brands (pictured below) which are beautifully cooked and result in a smooth product. If all else fails, tinned will do the trick but texture won’t be ideal.
To peel or not to peel? Peeling chickpeas is certainly a labour of love, it’s pretty boring and time consuming, but from my experience it does result in a smoother product. It depends how much time you have and the extent to which you can be bothered. Up to you.
2- Good Tahini pulls a lot of weight
Tahini, aka sesame paste, holds a special place in my heart (and pantry). Its such a fundamentally simple ingredient but it is the absolute backbone of hummus, excellent in dressings / sauces (Asian and Middle Eastern alike) and even wonderful in sweets. Unlike most nut butters, I have yet to make my own tahini to rival that I purchase in Arab stores.
So great is my love for Middle Eastern supermarkets that I wrote a whole blog post about them, and they are absolutely the best place to purchase tahini. Supermarket own-brand tahini just doesn’t compare, ever. I don’t know what it is, but the supermarket brands just seem to separate easily and lack the depth of flavour. If you are able to, I’d absolutely recommend buying a Middle Eastern brand of tahini. It also tends to be waaaay cheaper per gram, so a total win-win.
Pictured above: tahini & tahini halva in a North End Road store, an ugly but delicious spiralized carrot, aubergine and pepper stir fry with Asian sesame (tahini) dressing, and a chopped salad with halloumi and tahini dressing
3- There’s no need for olive oil
I drizzle olive oil over hummus as a topping because I love olive oil, but really there’s no need for it in the actual hummus blend. I personally find that the OO flavour can overpower the more subtle notes of cumin, tahini and lemon. The addition of olive oil is widespread across internet hummus recipes, but doesn’t actually correspond to the traditional method of making hummus (controversial of me to suggest that there is a ‘traditional’ method for this rather politicised dish).
4- There is such thing as too much garlic
I love garlic, but hummus is one dish where an excess of it isn’t a good thing, particularly because the garlic in question is raw. Stick to one clove if you know what’s good for you.
Equipment: food processor or blender, preferably the former but the latter works well too, just be sure to scrape the sides frequently!
315g cooked & peeled chickpeas (175g/ca. 1 cup uncooked)
Juice of 1 lemon (ca. 50ml)
1x medium garlic clove
4 1/2 tbsp tahini
3/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp + salt
2 1/2 tbsp (more if necessary) water
Cooking & Peeling the Chickpeas
I go roughly by Ottolenghi’s method. Be sure to note that if you wish to cook your own chickpeas, you must factor in the need to hydrate them for 6+ hours (the least I’ve done is 6 and that was a bit risky, but worked out fine), preferably overnight.
There are tons of online guides to peeling chickpeas, and I personally have yet to find a method that makes it anything less than a long and boring process. If you do, please report back to me.
1- Peel garlic, juice lemon, measure out salt, cumin and tahini and blend until a smooth paste forms.
As ever, I don’t wish to be responsible for anyone developing hypertension, so I’ve been careful with the salt measurement here – you may wish to add more or less as you please. Be sure to taste along the way.
2- Add [cooked & peeled] chickpeas and water and blend until smooth, adding more water if necessary, and scraping the sides of the blender / food processor frequently. Decant into tupperware and store in the fridge.
Hummus is best known in the West as a dip or spread (think vegan wraps), but it also forms the base of some Middle Eastern dishes, for example with lamb served hot. Inspired by a salad I had at Catch in Hong Kong, I like to eat it with / in Middle Eastern-style salads (see my random cauliflower, harissa chickpeas, pistachio and feta concoction below). Its also a staple pre-meal dinner party dish that I invariably leave out with carrot sticks and crisps, and rarely end up with leftovers.
If you want a twist on regular hummus, it’s great blended with roasted bell peppers, sundried tomatoes or even avocado, all of which I’ve successfully tried in the past (but not photographed, sorry). I personally prefer it in its original form, but it’s always fun to try something new.
So, basically, do what you want with it!
Leftover rating – 2/3, it will keep for up to a week in a sealed container in the fridge, but it’s best eaten fairly fresh within the first few days of its creation. I’ve never tried freezing it but don’t imagine it would work too well.
Where to buy your ingredients
Unfortunately, not everywhere has good Middle Eastern stores from which to purchase tahini. Again, if you’re in the U.K., check out my guide here.
In Hong Kong you can get hold of tahini, but it will cost you about $80hkd at the very least. Asian sesame paste is a decent substitute, although the end product will taste more strongly sesame-ish (which is nice too, just different). Just make sure that the product you’re buying is 100% sesame, or you may end up with some weird sugary concoction. In Lugano, it’s going to cost you a fortune either way, but Asia Market and Piazza Kebab both sell good Middle Eastern brands.
Dried chickpeas can be sourced from Uselect or pretty much any Indian store in Hong Kong (I frequent Netra Nepali Indian Dhaaba at 267 Queen’s Road East). Irrelevant, but this store is also great for spices and does the best deal on paneer (they keep it in the freezer).
Thank you for reading, apologies for the possibly unnecessary fluff. I’m not sophisticated enough for it to be SEO-related, if that’s any consolation.
Let me know how it goes if you do make it, and particularly if you manage to find an effective method of peeling chickpeas. Happy halloween, don’t get the rona!