Thursday, July 06, 2006

Forget the Da Vinci Code

I've cracked the biggest mystery of our times--how to make creamy hummus.

The secret has eluded me for decades. I've tried food processors, blenders, more water and less tahini, less water and more tahini, blended until well after the cows came home, and I could never get it to that smooth creamy consistency you find in restaurants.

I love hummus, and it's really easy to make, except for that little texture problem. It always comes out grainy.

Well, never again. I give you (drumroll please) . . .Chickpea skins!

Yes, you read right. Each of those little nuggets is encased in a thick, almost gelatinous skin. I've noticed it ever since I've been cooking them from dried, and even occasionally had a fleeting thought about what would happen if I were to peel them.

And then someone on usenet recommended peeling them for a creamier, smoother dip.
This is what they look like once they're peeled. They're a little slick, and they take up less room in the bowl.

My friend Bob invited me over to see his new place this past Sunday. It was pretty hot so I wasn't really up to cooking, but I wanted to take something with me. Hummus is quick, easy, and travels well so I thought I'd throw some together.

Now I've already broken one blender in my attempt to get a creamy hummus, and the bigger, better, stronger one that I got to replace it is just about to go as well, so clearly that wasn't the answer. Maybe skinning was the answer. So I got two bowls, sat down at the kitchen table, and spent half an hour squeezing each little bean out of its little skin. It was time-consuming, but not hard.

Then I went back to the kitchen, pulled out my food processor, and followed my usual recipe.

And Bingo! Hit the jackpot bigtime. This is genuine restaurant grade A-1 creamy hummus baby! I also used a little trick I got from Lynda, to drizzle in a little bit of olive oil at the end.

This is primo stuff. It's good with toasted pita, but I like it with celery, too, so I can eat more of the hummus with less of the guilt.

As with guacamole, I'm a bit of a hummus purist. Chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, water, salt and pepper. That's basically it. No other spices to compromise the beauty of the bean.
Home Cookin 4.9 Chapter: Appetizers, Spreads and Dips

Hummus bi Tahini

4 Tbsp. Tahini
6 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
6-8 Tbsp. warm water
1 clove garlic, chopped
14-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp. salt
black pepper to taste
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
olive oil (garnish)
chopped fresh parsley (garnish)

Put the tahini, lemon juice, water, and garlic into a blender or a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Cover and process until smooth.

With the machine running, gradually add the chickpeas, salt, and pepper, processing until the mixture is the consistency of a very thick paste. If necessary, stop the machine and scrape down the sides with a spatula. The mixture will thicken when it is refrigerated, so if it seems too thick when you've finished processing it, add up to 8 Tbsp. more water and process again. Add the olive oil in a stream at the very end of the processing. Taste to correct seasonings.

Put hummus into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, to chill. Before serving, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with the chopped parsley. Surround with pita wedges.

To store, refrigerate, covered, for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Makes 1 pound

adapted from
Pita the Great, by Virginia T. Habeeb (Ebury Press, 1986)


Anonymous said...

that is really cool, i always wondered about that, excellent!!!!!!!!!

dejamo said...

Yes, it was really amazing the difference it made. Now I'm actually thinking it might be worth trying the felafal one more time . . .

Anonymous said...

i got all the things to make the hummus, this might sound funny, but can you skin the canned beans as well, or is that trick just for the dried?

dejamo said...

Yes, Nicole, it works for either canned or dried beans.

Just grab a chickpea between your thumb and forefinger and squeeze it a little. The skin should come right off.

Good luck! Let me know how it turns out.

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