Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hummus – Middle East Meal, Part 3

Traditional hummus, made from the eponymous chickpea, is easy to make at home and more delicious than you'll find in any supermarket.

My dear husband woke me up with coffee in bed last Wednesday and the words, “Time to wake up!  Time to go to work!”  I cannot tell you the last time I heard those words, but I am guessing 1987.

We were living in Abu Dhabi and I was working for a publishing company/advertising agency called Apex Publishing.  We did the artwork for print ads, glossy four-color annual reports, published the British Club magazine, among other jobs. It was a tiny enterprise with a sales manager, a couple of salesmen, one accountant (who also answered the phones), one art director and one editor, which was me.

Or perhaps it was 1988. Still in Abu Dhabi but I had changed jobs and was working at the InterContinental Hotel as public relations officer.  Yep, that, friends, was the last time I was paid for work. (But it was also the time I discovered the joys of hummus.)

For the last two Wednesdays I have been volunteering at the gift shop in the Community Service Association’s facility in Maadi and it is great fun! I get to rearrange the merchandise (local craft items made by charities and non-government agencies to raise money for their programs), chat with all the shoppers and run the cash register, which is really a money drawer with a tiny key, and a computer with an Excel file. If you know me, you know what my favorite part of that job is.

Check it out!  My desk with computer and my very own ID badge.

Isn't it a lovely little shop?!
Anyway, back to Abu Dhabi and hummus - the final part of the three part series, Middle East Meal, which started with shish tawook and tabouli. I was saving the best for last because hummus has been one of my favorite things to eat for 25 years.  It's not hard so anyone can make it. 

12 oz or 340g dried chickpeas
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon flakey sea salt (plus more to taste)
3 large cloves garlic, peeled
1/3 cup or 80ml tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/3 cup or 80ml extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for serving)
4 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice

Either soak your chickpeas overnight or, in a metal or heat-resistant bowl, cover them with twice their depth of boiling water and then cover the bowl with a plate to keep the heat in.  Let them soak for at least one hour.

After either soaking method, drain the water and put the chickpeas in a pot with fresh water and bring to a boil.  Cover the pot and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours or until the chickpeas are tender. 

If you want really smooth hummus, you can gently squeeze the chickpeas and remove the thin skins.   If I have some time on my hands and something good to watch on television, I do this because it is a tedious, mindless task that goes perfectly with some Ellen or perhaps a rerun of Friends, and it will get you the smoothest hummus possible.

If you can’t be bothered, as I can’t most of the time, drain your chickpeas, reserving a  few to garnish the serving bowl, and put them into a bowl deep enough for a hand blender to work without spewing the bowl contents all over you and the kitchen.  (Or you can use a food processor, if you prefer.)

Add in 1 teaspoon of flakey sea salt, your garlic, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and about a half cup of water. 

 Using the hand blender, mix until you get a nice smooth paste.  

Add a little more water if necessary.  Taste the hummus and add more salt if it needs it.

This should be served in a shallow bowl with an indention in the hummus for some extra olive oil.  Scatter the reserved chickpeas about.  (As you can see from the photos, I forgot this step.)  Serve with some fresh Lebanese flatbread.   (Or even crudités like carrots, broccoli or cauliflower to dip.)

Sorry about the shadows!


Looking for part one and two or the Middle East meal?

Part 1, Shish Tawook  

Part 2, Tabouli


  1. What an adorable shop you volunteer at. And how nice of you to volunteer. I also love this recipe but have to admit to never having tried hummus to date. I keep meaning too but just never have. Yours looks lovely. Shadows give it character. xx

  2. Thank you for your kind words, Kim Bee! The cooking I can handle. My photography skills could use some work. If you like savory, and I think you do, you need to try hummus. It is addictive!


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