Citizens – everyone loves hummus – but no one pronounces it correctly outside the Middle East! Americans pronounce it “hum-mus” but the correct way in Hebrew and Arabic is “choo-moose”, where “ch” is a guttural
sound we don’t have in English.
With that out of the way: hummus is a dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas (or other beans), blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic.
Today, it is popular throughout the Middle East (including Turkey), North Africa (including Morocco), and in Middle Eastern cuisine served around the globe.
Hummus is an Arabic word (حمّص ḥummuṣ) meaning “chickpeas,” and the complete name of the prepared spread in Arabic is حمّص بطحينة ḥummuṣ bi ṭaḥīna, which means “chickpeas with tahini”.
Israelis love this dish and some of the finest versions of the recipe I’ve eaten have been in the Jewish, Arab and Christian quarters of Jerusalem! There is *great* rivalry in the Middle East as to which country has the ultimate recipe and therefore “owns it”. , but supports all sides in their love of this felicitous dish!
That said, there is some history that supports Egypt as the origin point. The earliest known recipes for a dish similar to hummus bi tahina are recorded in cookbooks published in Cairo in the 13th century.
A cold purée of chickpeas with vinegar and pickled lemons with herbs, spices, and oil, but no tahini or garlic, appears in the Kitāb al-Wusla ilā l-habīb fī wasf al-tayyibāt wa-l-tīb; and a purée of chickpeas and tahini called hummus kasa appears in the Kitab Wasf al-Atima al-Mutada: it is based on puréed chickpeas and tahini, and acidulated with vinegar (though not lemon), but it also contains many spices, herbs, and nuts, and no garlic. It is also served by rolling it out and letting it sit overnight, which presumably gives it a very different texture from the classic hummus bi tahina.
My version does include some eccentric but delicious touches – the use of a bit of white Japanese Miso to add an undefinable “umami” taste, plus some roasted garlic and a touch of smoked salt. Please note all of these are OPTIONAL – you can leave them out for a still off-the-charts-level excellent traditional hummus!
I have respectfully cribbed the instructions on how to soak the chickpeas from the famous recipe by Chef Ottolenghi. His directions are simply impeccable!
So why on Earth do I name my recipe after the famous modern artist – because immediately before serving, you get to go “Jackson Pollock” on the recipe!
For those unfamiliar with his art, it looks like this:
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
- 1 ¼ cup dried chickpeas
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 ½ cups water
- 1 cup Tahini paste (light roast)
- 3 tablespoons white (Shiro) miso (TFD umami secret weapon ingredient! It really makes the recipe, but if you prefer a traditional hummus, leave it out)
- 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 clove of roasted garlic (reserve the rest of the roasted garlic for snacking!)
- 6 ½ tablespoons ice-cold water, optionally mixed with ¼ teaspoon Asian sesame oil
- For drizzling and sprinkling (try as many as you like or just a few of your favorites, but always use the olive oil – I use them all!)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Flaky smoked (preferred) or regular sea salt
- Aleppo pepper flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Freshly ground coriander seed
- Freshly ground cumin
- Za’atar spice blend
- Sumac berry powder
- Minced fresh flat-leaf parsley and chives
- The night before, put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover them with cold water at least twice their volume. Leave to soak overnight.
- The next day, drain the chickpeas. Place a medium saucepan over high heat and add the drained chickpeas and baking soda. Cook for about three minutes, stirring constantly. Add the water and bring to a boil. Cook, skimming off any foam and any skins that float to the surface.
- The chickpeas will need to cook for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the type and freshness, sometimes even longer. Once done, they should be very tender, breaking up easily when pressed between your thumb and finger, almost but not quite mushy.
- Drain the chickpeas. You should have roughly 3 ⅔ cups now. Place the chickpeas in a food processor and process until you get a stiff paste. Then, with the machine sill running, add the tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic, and miso. Finally, slowly drizzle in the ice water and allow it to mix for about five minutes, until you get a very smooth and creamy paste.
- Transfer the hummus to a bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. If not using straightaway, refrigerate until needed. Make sure to take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving. This hummus will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days
- Drizzle a lot of your favorite olive oil over the top, then artfully and abstractly sprinkle the herbs and spices over the top of the hummus. In this way, every new bite has a different and addictive new set of flavors and every hummus you make looks different!
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