Berber & Q Hummus
It’s my dream that one day world peace will be officially ushered in with the ceremonial sharing of a huge bowl of hummus, communally eaten by all the world leaders sitting around a large banquet table. Stranger things have happened. Just ask the Virgin Mary. The irony being that I fear said hummus would have been the cause of the war in the first place. It has a power to divide every bit as forceful as its ability to unite. Which chickpeas should be used? Do you blend in a machine, or pound by hand? Do you add olive oil to the blended hummus, or as a drizzle over the top? These philosophical questions of love and life dominate the conversations of many in the Middle East – I doubt there will be a resolution, but if there is, I trust it will be settled over a bowl of silky-smooth tahini-laden good stuff.
|½ tsp||bicarbonate of soda|
|1||onion, cut in half|
|1||carrot, peeled and cut into two|
|6||garlic cloves, 4 peeled and left whole, 2 peeled and finely chopped or grated|
|1 tsp||ground cumin|
|2-3 tbsp||tahina sauce (see ingredients below)|
|50ml||extra virgin olive oil|
|few pinches of sweet paprika and za’atar|
|1 tbsp||chopped flat-leaf parsley|
|warm pita bread, to serve|
|For the tahina sauce:|
|1 tbsp||lemon juice (optional)|
|1||garlic clove, minced (optional)|
You will need: a food processor.
FOR THE TAHINA SAUCE Pour the tahini paste into a bowl and add the lemon juice and garlic (if using). Gradually whisk in the iced water, bit by bit, as you pour. The tahini will thicken at first to a very coarse paste, but will loosen to form a thick sauce with the consistency of honey as you add more of the iced water. Season with salt to taste. Alternatively, you can blitz the tahini in a food processor or whisk together using a stand mixer, adding the water gradually to combine.
FOR THE HUMMUS Soak the chickpeas in a large pot of water overnight or for up to 6 hours. Drain once soaked and return to the pot, covered comfortably with more water.
Set the pot over a high heat on the stove and bring to the boil, removing any scum that rises to the surface. Add the bicarbonate of soda – the chickpeas will bubble and froth almost instantly. Skim the froth from the surface, lower the heat to a gentle simmer, add the onion, carrot and whole garlic cloves, and cook, skimming the surface scum periodically, until the chickpeas have completely softened and are all but falling apart. This can take up to 2 hours and sometimes even longer. Keep an eye on the water level in your pot, and top up if needs be. Be patient, you need the chickpeas to be completely soft and to fall apart easily with the lightest of pressure. Once cooked, turn off the heat, season with ½ tbsp salt and set aside for 30 minutes or so.
Drain the chickpeas, reserving the cooking liquor for later use. Pick out the carrot and onion halves; transfer all but a few tablespoons of the chickpeas to a food processor (reserving those for garnish), add the tahini, lemon juice, grated garlic and cumin and blitz, ladling the cooking liquor back into the processor gradually until the desired consistency is achieved. The hummus must be as smooth as your food processor will permit. Bear in mind that the hummus will thicken considerably once cooled and refrigerated. Taste for seasoning – it may need some more salt or lemon juice.
Transfer the hummus to a serving plate and spread around its perimeter using the back of a spoon. Spoon the tahini sauce in the middle, topped with the reserved chickpeas, dressed in olive oil and seasoned. Dot the paprika and za’atar around the plate as you deem fit. Sprinkle parsley on top and finish with a very generous drizzle of the best olive oil you can buy. I like mine to be swimming in olive oil, but this comes down to personal preference, I suppose.
Serve with warmed pita, or bread of just about any description. Some Yemenite hot sauce wouldn’t go amiss, if you happen to have some spare lying around. I like to add a sliced hard-boiled egg, but it’s not for everyone.