Recipe: Back to basics hummus

My love affair with hummus began when I was living in London. My relationship with food was different back then. It was fuel for my body, occasionally a delight for my tastebuds, but I had little desire to prepare it myself. My flatmate and I had a running joke. We could always tell which shelf in the fridge belonged to me because the only items it ever held were hummus and carrots. How things have changed.

One of my first experiences with Middle Eastern food was during a trip to Dubai in my early twenties. A good friend of mine had spent her teenage years there before returning to Europe for university and her parents still lived there. Dubai struck me as a surreal city. I haven't been back since so I have no idea what it's like now but over a decade ago it felt theme-park-like. The Middle Eastern Experience. I was dazzled by the gold souk and my senses came alive on a walk through the spice market but the western luxuries of seven-star hotels and mega shopping malls were never far behind. The only meal I remember from that trip came from a food truck outside the city on a deserted, sandy road. We ordered freshly cooked falafel wraps with tabbouleh and hummus. The pita bread was warm and the falafel were crunchy on the outside yet moist in the centre. It was topped off by a zing of chilli sauce that made my lips tingle. Perfection.

I still consume more than my fair share of hummus. We've been buying the large tubs and the evidence of my addiction is piling up in the Tupperware cupboard. We reuse the tubs for chicken scraps or collecting berries or freezing tomato sugo, but even on the farm there's only so many we need. So, in my continued effort to get back to basics, I decided to make my own. Once again I was surprised by how quick and easy it was to make myself and the best part was I got to adjust the texture and flavour to my liking. It doesn't last as long as processed hummus (which is really no surprise) and I found the cost of a jar of tahini paste meant the recipe was not as economical as buying it but the freshness of flavour is something you can't get off a shelf. Next time I'll try making my own tahini.

Ingredients:
125 g dried chickpeas
135 g tahini paste
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
50 ml ice cold water
salt
olive oil

Method:
Dried chickpeas need to be soaked overnight before use so place them in a large bowl and cover them with at least twice their volume of cold water before leaving them to soak.

The next day, drain the chickpeas and place in a medium saucepan. Cook over a high heat, skimming off any skins and foam that floats to the surface. The chickpeas can take anywhere between 20 and 40 minutes to cook depending on the type. You'll know when they're done because they'll be very tender but not quite mushy. A good test is whether they break up easily when pressed between your thumb and forefinger.

Drain the chickpeas and place in a food processor bowl. Blend until you reach a stiff paste and then add the tahini, garlic, lemon juice and about 1 teaspoon of salt. Once blended through, add the iced water and allow it to mix until you achieve a smooth and creamy paste. At this stage you might prefer to add a bit more salt or lemon juice so taste it now and see. 

Transfer the hummus into a bowl, cover with cling wrap and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes. When ready to serve, drizzle with olive oil. The olive oil is not necessary but I think it adds a lovely gleam to the finished dish. During a recent lunch on the farm with friends we served this hummus with some of Oliver's freshly baked sourdough and it went down a treat but it's also wonderful on warm pita bread.

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Spring on the farm continues to brighten up our lives. The 'prunus elvins' have blossomed for the first time. Aren't they stunning?

Spring on the farm continues to brighten up our lives. The 'prunus elvins' have blossomed for the first time. Aren't they stunning?