Born and raised in the middle east, I was basically growing up with a spoon of hummus in my mouth. But also, growing up there I never had to attend to the idea of making it myself. So many good Palestinian and Israeli hummus places around, and having it as the most abundant supermarket spread, makes it redundant to learn how to properly make it. For years I saw the art of making hummus was some kind of sorcery kept as a secret tradition by old Arab men.
But when I moved to Europe, well, something inside me broke. Having really, really bad hummus in selected only shops, or having middle eastern restaurants that are trying to adapt their hummus to the local taste, or the worst thing ever: people that ask ridiculous questions about how to make it, and end up with mashing lentils with beetroot and olive oil, and calling it hummus.
So no. The two secrets for good hummus are simplicity and patience. I have to warn you beginners that making perfect with hummus takes some trial and error, until you find the right balance between the ingredients, the right kind of tahini and chickpeas, the ultimate cooking time and the right appliance to blend it with. But if you keep the two magic words in mind, you will eventually learn how to make some very good hummus.
So what do I mean by patience? It means to let processes happen and not be afraid of the time they take. Use real dry chickpeas, never canned ones. Soak them in water overnight and cook them for a long time, until they are really soft. No shortcuts here. I usually do that in big amounts and freeze some of the peas in small boxes, so I can defrost them every time I want to make another dose.
Simplicity goes for what you need to use. Chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, salt. That’s it. No additions, no fancy spices, no additional oil. Tahini is oily enough. You can sprinkle your cumin and drizzle the olive oil on top, but they don’t belong into the spread itself. Keeping it simple will help you emphasizing the natural flavor of the chickpeas, instead of masking it. And that’s the secret of a good hummus.
But besides that, there are also some things to remember while making hummus:
The chickpeas: there are many kinds of chickpeas in the shop, which should you buy? Well, look for ones that are small, they usually have stronger flavor. Additionally, if you buy them loose, make sure they are solid, and that they have a strong smell. If you live in Germany, you can find in Turkish shops chickpeas of the brand Efefirat, from all of those I checked they were the best.
You should soak them in water overnight, at least 12 but preferably around 18 hours. You should do that in a large enough bowl or pot, to make sure the chickpeas are always covered, even after they get swollen. Change the water once or twice during that time. If you live in a warm place, like above 25 degrees, try to find a cool, shaded corner to do that, and replace the water more often.
Replace the water once more, place in a pot, make sure that there is enough water and start cooking. Nothing in the water, not even salt. Bring to boil. Then a lot of foam will start floating on the pot. Make sure to remove it. Once it comes no more, reduce to simmer and keep on cooking. Add boiling water if needed. And let it cook until the chickpeas are really soft. They are also edible after 1.5 hours, but this is not what you want when you want a creamy hummus. For that you’ll need to cook them longer, at least 3 hours. The test should be if you can puree one pea between two fingers.
So, make good hummus you will need the following:
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup of the water they were cooked in
juice from 1/2 a juicy lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1 medium clove of garlic
1/2 cup tahini
Now, choose the right blender. I use my Mr. Magic, the same as I use for smoothies. You want your mash as fine as possible. Some peel the peas after cooking, but that a lot of work. I think that if your blender is good enough, that’s not really needed.
You blend everything but the tahini together. Blend it for around 1.5 minutes, to make sure it’s nice and creamy. Transfet it into a bowl, add the tahini and mix will with a spoon, until it is all nice and smooth.
Transfer to a plate, sprinkle cumin, paprika and chopped parsley, drizzle some good quality olive oil and serve with a hot pita, olives and chunks of fresh onion. You can also use it a s a base for serving other dishes, but I like to give it the respect it deserves and eat it as it is. But beware with your pita, don’t just dip and eat, the secret is to grab as much hummus as possible with as less pita as possible. Your main course is the spread, not the bread.
One common side is Tatbila, a sour-spicy sauce that goes well with every dip: lemon juice, green chili, garlic. Mix together and let it rest for a bit. You can dip your bread in that before dipping.