- Lifestyle

How to make hummus

Remember the great hummus crisis of 2017, when the country went into meltdown over a temporary shortage of chickpea puree? Ah, they were happy days … Anyway, now the problem is more likely to be that you can’t face going to the shops to buy hummus, but the solution is the same: if you’ve got the ingredients, make your own.

Prep 10 min, plus soaking
Cook Zero to 2 hr+, depending on the chickpeas
Serves 4

200g dried chickpeas, or 1 x 400g tin or jar (see step 1)
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (optional)
3 garlic cloves, or to taste
6 tbsp tahini
Juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste
1 generous pinch ground cumin
Fine salt, to taste
Extra-virgin olive oil, to top

1 Dried, tinned or jarred?
If you’re using dried chickpeas, which is my preference, because I think they have a better flavour, put them in a large bowl and cover with twice the volume of cold water.

If you’re using a tin, skip straight to step four – the jarred Spanish kind are pricey, but their buttery texture makes it worth it if you can run to the expense.

2 Soak the chickpeas
Stir in a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, if using, and leave to soak for 24 hours – this will help the chickpeas soften more quickly, and give the finished hummus a creamier consistency, but if you don’t have it available, or really don’t like the flavour even in small amounts, leave it out.

3 Drain and cook the chickpeas
Drain and rinse the chickpeas, put them in a large pan with the remaining bicarb and cover again with cold water. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and leave to simmer gently until tender, adding more water if necessary – this will probably take a couple of hours, depending on the age of the chickpeas; they should be easy to crush, but not falling apart.

4 Drain again and peel
Leave the chickpeas to cool in the cooking liquid, then drain well, reserving the water. If using tinned or jarred chickpeas, drain them, and likewise keep their liquid. Set aside a spoonful of the chickpeas to use as a garnish. If you’d like a really silky end product, remove the papery skins (which should be falling off by this point anyway), by rubbing the chickpeas between your fingers; it’s a fiddly job, true, but I think well worth it.

5 Make the tahini paste

Peel and crush the garlic (three cloves are my preference for this amount of chickpeas, but you may wish to add more, or less, depending on your tolerance for raw garlic), and put half of it in a small bowl.

Stir in the tahini and half the lemon juice, to make a stiff paste, then gradually beat in just enough of the reserved chickpea water to loosen it to a pourable liquid consistency.

6 Combine with the chickpeas
Put this and the drained chickpeas in a food processor (or, if you’re using a stick blender, a sturdy bowl; if you don’t have either, you can use a pestle and mortar to crush the chickpeas in batches, provided you have the time and patience – though you’ll need then to press it through a sieve to get the mix to the right texture.

7 Puree the mix
Blitz the chickpeas until really smooth, then add the cumin, a good pinch of salt and the rest of the garlic. With the motor still running, drizzle in enough of the reserved cooking water to get the desired consistency – the hummus should hold its shape, but not be heavy or claggy. Taste and add more salt, lemon or garlic, if you think it needs it.

8 Garnish and serve
Spoon the hummus into a serving bowl and then pour a little olive oil around the side. Finish by scattering the reserved chickpeas in the centre; you could also add a sprinkle of sesame seeds, za’atar, sumac or smoked paprika, if you fancy it, or indeed some fresh herbs such as finely chopped coriander or mint.

9 Variations
Purists may be horrified, but hummus is a very versatile base. Add pureed cooked beetroot or other vegetables (roast red peppers or squash are particularly nice), or swap some of the chickpeas for other beans or pulses, if you prefer. Homemade (or, indeed, shop-bought) hummus is the perfect home for that almost empty jar of harissa or the last handful of frozen peas, so be creative.

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