There’s something about really good hummus that’s simply addictive. I’m not talking about the pre-packaged type that you find in the refrigerated section of your store. I’m here to talk about the freshly made creamy goodness created in an authentic Middle Eastern establishment. Like Mamoun’s. They have quite a few locations in the tri-state area …specifically in Hoboken, NJ. When our son and his family were living in Hoboken, we would typically visit every week or so. On so many of those occasions, we would stop by Mamoun’s on Washington Street and fill our small cooler bag with several containers of their hummus. We always had requests to bring some home for the rest of the family. That’s how good their hummus is.
We no longer take that drive north on the NJ Turnpike to visit those guys. These days we catch a flight to California. We may not see them as often, but when we do we make sure it’s a nice long quality visit. We plan to be the best bicoastal grandparents ever.
Back to talking hummus. I’ve recently decided that it was high time that I make my own hummus. So I turned to my favorite chef of Middle Eastern descent, Yotam Ottolenghi. His recipe for Basic Hummus (featured in his awesome book titled, Jerusalem: A Cookbook) is by far, the best that I’ve tried. I’ve made a few minor adjustments but the credit must go to Ottolenghi and his co-author, Sami Tamimi.
No canned chickpeas here. Start off with the dried chickpeas and give them a good soak overnight. Take a look at how much they plump up in that short time.
The secret here is in the extra step of “roughing up” the drained chickpeas by mixing in the baking soda and giving them a “quick cook” over high heat. Just to get things started. Be sure to stir them constantly for about three minutes. You’ll notice how the skins appear to be loosened.
The water is then added to the pot. These guys will need to simmer for about 20 minutes, during which time you’ll skim off any foam and skins that may float to the surface.
The chickpeas should be very tender at this point, breaking up easily when pressed between your thumb and finger. Almost mushy.
The cooked chickpeas are drained then placed in the bowl of your food processor. Once they are processed into a stiff paste, the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt are added while the machine is running. Finally, the ice-cold water is drizzled in and you’ll continue to process the mixture for a full five minutes. You’ll be amazed by the results. Really.
Since this hummus recipe is rich in tahini, it’s important to use a good quality product. I use the Philadelphia-based Soom Sesame Premium Tahini, which is light and creamy, full of flavor with no sign of bitterness whatsoever. You can find it at Whole Foods or online at Amazon.com.
At this point, your creation is just about ready to enjoy. Just give it a rest for about 30 minutes. If you don’t plan to enjoy it right away, store it in a covered container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can even freeze it if need be. The texture may be affected slightly but not enough to really notice. Bottom line is…don’t waste a bit of this deliciousness.
You can customize when serving by folding in some cooked then crushed chickpeas for added texture. You could add some ground cumin for a stronger flavor. Then there’s always the tweaking of the amount of lemon juice and/or tahini to better suit your taste. For now, I’ve simply topped it off with a generous layer of good quality extra virgin olive oil. Just add warm pita or bread.
Now, this is what I’m talkin’ about. So creamy. So delicious. And no need to drive 90 miles for this stuff. It’s been right in my kitchen all along. And now that we’ve got that all figured out, I discover that the list of Mamoun’s locations includes Philadelphia. Twenty minutes from my home. Had no idea. Good to know in case my food processor is on the fritz. But only then.
ottolenghi's basic but delicious hummus
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi's recipe featured in Jerusalem: A Cookbook
Super smooth and creamy, rich in tahini.
- 1 1/4 cup dried chickpeas (250 grams)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light tahini paste (270 grams)
- 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 1/2 tablespoons ice cold water
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 or pot over high heat. Add the drained chickpeas and baking soda. Cook for about three minutes, stirring constantly.
Add the water and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and simmer for about 20 minutes, skimming off any foam and any skins that float to the surface. Depending on the type and freshness of the chickpeas, it may take a bit longer. Once done, they should be very tender, breaking up easily when pressed between your thumb and finger, borderline mushy.
Drain the chickpeas. You should have roughly 3 2/3 cups (600 grams) now. Place the chickpeas in the bowl of a food processor and process until you get a stiff paste. Then, with the machine still running, add the tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Finally, slowly drizzle in the ice water and allow it to process for a full 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.
Optionally, to serve, top with a layer of good quality olive oil. This hummus will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.
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