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Friday
Apr012011

Middle Eastern mezze no.1: hummous

 

One of my favourite of Dad’s meals from when I was younger was his Middle Eastern mezze selection – spicy lamb mince with pine nuts, falafel, tabbouli, hummous, baba ghanoush, tzatziki or jajik, olives and feta served with flatbread for making DIY wraps or just mopping up the juices.

This Middle Eastern medley is now a regular part of my own dinner time repertoire, mainly because I like taking the leftovers to work for lunch. I often break it out for parties too because the mezze style is great for picking and dipping, mixing and matching, forking or wrapping.

Over the next week or two I am going to share all of the above recipes with you so you can create your own mezze selection, and where better to begin than with what is arguably the most well-known and ubiquitous of Middle Eastern mezze – hummous.  

Hummous, hummus, hamos, hommos, hommus, houmous, hummos, humus, homos (yes, homos). However you spell it, the basic premise is the same: cooked chickpeas mashed or blended with tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Of course, there are hundreds of variations – some add cumin or paprika for a little spice, sumac for tang, parsley for garnish, others add roasted red peppers for colour and sweetness, some leave out the tahini, finding it too bitter. Experiment and find out what works for you.

I would be lying if I said that hummous was just as good with tinned chickpeas as freshly cooked ones, but the truth is that I use tins more often than not and the result is pretty good. For this reason I haven’t specified in the recipe – if you want to cook them yourself check out Stephanie Alexander’s advice on preparing and cooking chickpeas in my tips and techniques section, otherwise just use a tin.

Traditional recipes tend to use raw garlic, but I only add a small amount of raw garlic (roasting the remainder) because I find too much raw garlic can be unpleasantly spicy, not to mention the bad breath! You don't have to heat the oven to roast a few cloves of garlic - just place it skin on under a hot grill for 5 to 10 minutes, turning once.

This recipe makes one generous bowl, enough to serve with flatbread, Turkish bread or crudités as a starter or as part of a main mezze selection. 

Ingredients

250g cooked chickpeas
2 cloves garlic, roasted
1 small clove garlic, roughly chopped
Juice ½ lemon, or to taste
1 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp medium olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For spicy hummous

1 ½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp hot paprika

Method

Put the chickpeas, roast garlic and raw garlic in a food processor and blend to a rough paste. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse till combined. Check the seasoning, adjusting as necessary; lemon and salt will be the main variables. For a smoother consistency, add a little extra olive oil or some cooking water from the chickpeas and blend for a little longer.

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Reader Comments (4)

Tahini. Can't stand the stuff !
I find it impossible to accept that the wonderful flavour of toasted sesame seeds can be transmogrified into something as vile as tahini ! !
Try your hummous with and without and I'll bet in a years time there'll still be a jar of tahini lurking about the back of your fridge ! It's main sin in hummous is that it cancels out the wonderful nuttiness of the chickpeas. NB It's important to buy dried chickpeas from somewhere that has a high turnover so they are 'fresh' in relative terms. Dried chickpeas that you've had in the cupboard for a year or two whilst useble just won't taste as good as fresher ones. One the other hand if you put tahini in your hummous it won't matter how old or young the chickpeas are ! !

April 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHasi

I love your tip for roasting garlic inder the grill. I didn't know that one.

April 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMa

I made your hummous as a pre dinner dip last night. I added cumin but not tahini, in deference to Hash Brown , but I might try it another time with tahini to see which I prefer. I think the roasted garlic is the secret to how good it tastes. Two friends Chrissie Mac and Lesley spotted the roasted garlic flavour, It was certainly a lot better than any hummous I have made before. I am looking forward to having a go at putting together the entire Middle Eastern mezze myself.

April 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMa

Hi Hash Brown, thanks for the tip re. fresh dried chick peas. Well, I had the opposite experience from you with the tahini. I never used to use it because you didn't, but my hummous just never tasted quite right. I thought maybe this was because I was cheating and using tinned chick peas, so I tried with dried ones and I had the same problem. I decided to give tahini a go again and suddenly my hummous tasted like the real thing again. You will notice that I don't put much in, just 1 tbsp, but I think it is better with a little. That said, I have always liked your hummous, perhaps my chick peas weren't fresh enough?

Hi Ma, glad you liked the hummous with the roast garlic flavour and glad my tip helped. Look forward to hearing about your Middle Eastern mezze.

April 25, 2011 | Registered CommenterVix

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