A paste based on chickpeas and tahini (sesame seed paste) used
typically as a vegetable, spread or dip. In the UK at present it is
typically bought and served in small (e.g. 200 g)
recipe makes a pudding basin full (about 2 kg) & tastier. It is
also slightly less fattening
per unit volume.
- Soak the chickpeas overnight & drain.
- Simmer for 2 hours.
- Blend all the ingredients together.
- Simmer for an hour adding more water if necessary.
- Takes approximately: 10 min work, overnight soaking, 3 h
cooking, 12 h total. (Or 1 h
cooking, 1 h 10m total if using ready-cooked chickpeas.)
|Dried chickpeas (preferably dark)
|about 150 g
|about 100 ml
|about half a bulb
|about 1 tbsp
|about 1 tbsp
|about 1 tsp
|Yeast extract spread ("Marmite")
|about 1 tbsp
|about 2 tbsp
|as required for desired consistency
- Light chickpeas: Although I prefer the darker colour from using dark chickpeas, I've found that some people think that looks wrong in hummus. As dark (a.k.a. 'desi') chickpeas were typically grown in India whereas light chickpeas (a.k.a. 'kabuli' chickpeas or 'garbanzo' beans) were typically grown in the Mediterranean, the latter shade of hummus is more traditional in the West. Light chickpeas absorb slightly less water so it would need approximately 575 g of dried light chickpeas to replace 500 g of dark (reducing the other ingredients in proportion may be easier as supermarkets typically sell dried chickpeas in multiples of 500 g).
- Canned chickpeas: An alternative which is more expensive but eliminates the soaking
time and reduces cooking time is to use 1.5 kg of ready cooked tinned chickpeas instead of the dried chickpeas. A typical 400 g supermarket can of light chickpeas contains about 240 g of chickpeas when drained so that is approximate 6 cans.
Saucepan (preferably with lid). Serving bowl (or serve
directly from the
saucepan if serving hot rather than putting cold on a buffet). Knife,
spoon, spatular or similar to mix
with. Spice grinder
(or use ready ground spices). Electric liquidiser, blender or 'food
processor' (or a hand powered one but that will take longer).
- If not using ready cooked chickpeas, do the following
to cook them (if using ready-cooked tinned chickpeas, just open the tin
cans and drain them).
- Put the 500 g of dried chickpeas in the
saucepan (or multiple smaller
saucepans if you don't have one big enough).
- Add water to amply cover.
- Leave several hours (e.g. overnight) to soak.
- Drain the chickpeas (this soaking water reputedly
substances which are not beneficial to digestion and thereby increase
chickpeas' flatulent effect).
- Add water to amply cover.
- Bring to the boil, cover (to reduce fuel use) and
for 2 h, adding more water if necessary (i.e. if more water boils
or is absorbed by the chickpeas that you estimated) and
occasionally (so the chickpeas at the cooler top of the pan don't take
unnecessarily long to cook).
- Drain the liquid off (but retain it this time, as it
can be used
instead of some
of the water when diluting the humus).
- Put the chickpeas into the blender (it might need several
batches as domestic blenders are typically small compared to a serving
- Add the 150 g of tihini, 100 ml of olive oil, 2 tbsp of
lemon juice &
1 tbsp of Marmite to the blender.
- Peal the half bulbful of garlic cloves (I find it easier if
microwaved until the skins loosen first, this also makes them less
harsh in flavour but take care as they can be burningly hot when
straight out of the microwave) and add them to the blender.
Alternatively use a garlic press if you have one.
- Grind the 1 tbsp of cumin, 1 tbsp of coriander & 1
tsp of black pepper and add them to
- Try blending it. If your blender (like mine) cannot cope
with such dry ingredients, add water until the mix is blendable.
Do not put your fingers in the blender (although I have not had personal
experience of that, I imagine it could be very unpleasant) - if the mix
does get stuck then poke it an implement like a spatula or chopstick with the
blades not spinning (and preferably the blender unplugged &/or vessel
removed from the motor unit.
- Blend it to a smooth paste.
- Put the paste in a saucepan.
- Add water to get it to a consistency where it can boil
without sticking & burning at the bottom (it does not matter if
it is a bit too sloppy as it will firm up in cooking).
- Bring to the boil, cover (to reduce fuel use) and simmer
for 1 h, stirring occasionally. You will probably need to add more
water to maintain the consistency as the paste absorbs the water and
swells up. You might need to add so much that the increase in volume it
exceeds your pan volume and requires splitting between more pans.
(Actually this cooking stage is optional. The ingredients have already
been cooked beforehand or are edible raw. However it helps to dilute
the hummus and the extra cooking of the chickpeas reduces their
- During or after the cooking mix in salt (to your taste
versus health preference) and water (to your consistency preference,
noting that will get firmer after cooling and settling).
- If not serving hot as a main meal component, put
it in the serving bowl and allow to cool.
- There are lots of extra ingredients that can be put in for
additional taste or visual effect, e.g. sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
olives, pine nuts, chilli powder or herbs.
- If the consistency is wrong, that is not a
significant problem as it is easy to
change. To make it softer, add water and mix or blend it in. To make it
firmer, remove water by boiling it down. As the later requires more
time (especially if it has already cooled down and one wants it cold)
and fuel, it is better to err on the side of too little water initially.
- To stop it looking like an unappetising bowl of brown
slop, decorate the top by putting on a decorative edibles,
e.g. unchopped herbs, raw baby spinach leaves, sun-dried
tomatoes, sliced boiled eggs, sliced olives, whole olives, edible flowers or patterns
made with paprika powder.
- Finding Marmite might cause problems for people not in the
UK as it is a "yeast extract" spread popular in the UK but unpopular in
many other countries including the USA. A similar product popular in
Australia is Vegemite. The generic name (both Marmite &
Vegemite are trade names) is "yeast extract" but that is ambiguous; it
is a vegetarian brown spread with major taste elements being, to me,
glutamate & stock and the principle ingredients being yeast and
salt. If it is unavailable then some other source of glutamate can be
used such as monosodium glutamate powder (which will annoy guests who
disapprove of artificial ingredients), 'Maggi' sauce (which will annoy
who boycott Nestle for unpleasant trade practices), Japanese
seaweed (which will annoy guests who think of eating seaweed as weird)
Thai fish sauce (which will annoy guests who are vegetarian).
Alternatively miss it out as it is not traditional anyway (but I've
found it does improve the taste).
- There are numerous different spellings of hummus
in English, it being a transcription of an Arabic word meaning
'chickpeas'. According to Wikipedia,
the English spellings of hummus currently include 'hamos',
'houmous', 'hommos', 'hommus', 'hummos', 'hummous' and 'humus' (this
latter one being most obvious but avoided as it is also the spelling of
a type mud in English!). It turns that the spelling I used
before writing this article, 'humous', is hardly used at all (I am not
good at spelling!).
- Although most people like it, it has embarrassed some
friends who have brought a little tub of supermarket hummus to the same
party to see it on the same buffet as a ten times bigger bowl of
I first thought of making humus when I went to a food party
after an Israeli folk dancing event where the main dish was a large
amount of delicious hummus cooked in big pans on a domestic stove (I
doubt my hummus is as good as that but at least mine is probably
tastier than supermarket hummus). That was in 2001. It was not until
2004 that I tried making my own hummus.
My recipe out started as a mixture of several different
& conflicting Greek, Turkish, Israeli
& Indian recipes I
found on the WWW and on the back of ingredient packets. The common
features were the boiled chickpeas, tahini, olive oil and salt. The
various flavourings and various cooking methods. I halved the typical
amount of olive oil & tahini relative to chickpeas because
those are largely fat and therefore unfashionably fattening &
unhealthy if eaten in large quantities (tahini was also by far the the
most expensive ingredient). I missed out the salt as that is
unfashionable too in the UK for health reasons. I also used far less
water as it seemed too sloppy & missed out the garlic simply
because I had
run out. I took it to a Greek dance & food party. Some people
liked it but I got complaints about it being too firm, lacking salt and
The firmness I easily fix the next time just by adding more
water. My mistake was not to realise that it it got firmer after I had
put it in the serving bowl as it cooled down and settled down (I guess
mainly from the chickpea starch spreading out into the water more). The
of garlic was fixed by adding the garlic as originally intended. The
was a problem. I tried a monosodium glutamate instead as it enhances
flavour (and gives an umami flavour of its own that I like) more than
sodium chloride per unit of sodium so less of the harmful sodium was
needed. It worked. However I had a complaint about the monosodium
glutamate as that is even more unfashionable in the UK due to an old
health scare and its chemical sounding name. Hence I replaced it with
sodium (salt) & glutamate (seaweed) separately. Chemically it
is still equivalent to monosodium glutamate because the same ions are
present in solution but it upsets sensibilities less. The result was
popular when taken to a party.
The 3rd time I made it I realised that Marmite would also
provide glutamate without the odd looking green/black flecks in the
hummus and with more flavour. Hence my current recipe.