I stumbled across this article the other day and realised that I had never made Hummus in the proper way. Despite making many batches of the stuff at uni last year, I had never bothered with dry chickpeas, imagining that there really couldn’t be that much difference; after all it just cuts out a bit of work buying them tinned. So after having spent this year striving to use the freshest, most natural ingredients available I decided it was time to take on the classic that has been adopted as the dip of choice by most of the West. In fact the weekend saw a finger food foray in my flat as ridiculous heat and humidity made cooking and eating a proper meal unthinkable.
Recent popularity in the West doesn’t feature much in the Hummus story. After a bit of light research I learnt it is believed to date back to the 12th Century, favoured by the Sultan Saladin, whilst others cite it in the Old Testament. It is a source of modern political tension and made in unbelievable quantities as a means to settling origin debates. It is also considered a blasphemy to stray away from the most basic of Hummus’ preparations; rendering mine and most of the supermarket versions as frauds.
Although I am a sucker for sticking to the food rules and limiting my fusion there is something about this combination which is so right that I had to break them (plus I had a couple of peppers to use) . The result is a vividly coloured hummus, where the sweet/smoky flavour of the skinned capsicums didn’t overpower the nutty chickpeas and sat perfectly with the garlic, cumin and smoked paprika.
I will agree with most in the dry versus tinned debate in that flavour doesn’t differ that much, maybe a slightly nuttier taste with the dried ones, the real distinction is the texture. It was smooth but still had some of the grainy, wholesome texture that hummus should have – if that makes sense. And as for the extra time taken, I would deem it worthwhile, after all it only requires a little forethought to pre-soak overnight and with the addition of baking powder the chickpeas can be cooked in much less time and be left unattended, even quicker with a pressure cooker. The simple pitta bread crisps are an idea stolen from my mum and are not only extremely ‘moreish’ but are a great way of using up bread that is past it’s best.
Smoky Red Pepper Hummus
this makes a nice big dish of hummus with plenty left over for other uses. Lemon, garlic, tahini, cumin should be adjusted to personal taste.
To skin the peppers (capsicums)
Place 2 large red peppers directly onto the flame of your hob or even better onto hot coals until blackened all over. Cover in a bowl until cool then rinse under a cold tap to help remove the skins. When skinned remove the seeds and stalk and then blend until liquid.
For the Hummus
500g dried chickpeas
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
8 tbsp tahini
3 lemons, juiced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoon cumin powder
salt, to taste
red pepper purée (above)
Stir 1 teaspoon of the bicarbonate into two litres of water and use to cover the chickpeas in a large bowl. Leave for 24 hours.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas, covering with fresh water in a pan and adding the remaining bicarbonate of soda and a teaspoon of salt. Bring to the boil over a medium heat and reduce to a low simmer until they are very tender, almost falling apart. Mine took around 2 1/2 hours. Add more hot water to the pan from time to time so the chickpeas are always covered.
Allow to cool in the pan, then drain, RESERVING the cooking water. Mix the tahini with half the lemon juice and half the garlic, then to loosen this thick paste slowly add a little reserved cooking water until the paste is loose and workable. Then transfer to your food processor or similar appliance along with the chickpeas, cumin, and a teaspoon of decent salt.
Blend until a purée and then loosen again with the cooking water until you reach the desired consistency, I also added a good dash of olive oil at this point. Continue to blend adding the red pepper purée. Taste and add any of the remaining garlic, lemon juice or more cumin, olive oil or salt before transferring to serving dish.
Garnish with olive oil, smoked paprika and cooked chickpeas if you like.
For the Pitta Bread Crisps
Oven @ 180 C
Cut the pitta bread into strips lengthways then separate each strip into two (they should come apart easily due to the natural air bubble in the centre). Drizzle a baking tray with a little olive oil, lay the pitta bread slices on then drizzle with more olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and a pinch of rosemary.
Bake for 7 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and place on paper towel to absorb any excess oil before serving.