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Caramelized Garlic Hummus

Nigella Lawson's Caramelized Garlic Hummus recipe makes for the perfect starter or appetiser, enjoyed with crudités or pitas.

From the book

Nigella Lawson


While I am quite happy to have a tub of good-quality hummus in the fridge for family fridge-foraging, I don’t tend to bring it out for eating out loud, as it were, without some zhuzhing up. Making your own from scratch, I have concluded, is scarcely any harder, and much more satisfying. I am aided in this enterprise by the fact that I cook chickpeas, unsoaked, in my slow-cooker and sometimes even freeze them (see Freeze Note), plus I always have a couple of jars of fabulous pre-cooked Spanish chickpeas in the cupboard; and I am a compulsive garlic-caramelizer. I cannot stop wrapping bulbs of garlic in foil and baking them in the oven, until the cloves are sweet and soft. I always store some in the fridge (where they keep, in an airtight container or wrapped in foil, for up to 1 week), ready to have this rich, heady purée squeezed into baked potatoes, soups, stews, yogurt – you name it – without any notice. I have given instructions overleaf, should you choose not to follow suit, but what you should know is that I wouldn’t fire up the oven specially for them: I just cook them at whatever heat the oven’s on at the time; thus, you will see for the Spiced Lamb Stew on p.197, I cook the bulbs of garlic, prepared as overleaf, for 2 hours at 170ºC/gas mark 3, because that’s what the oven’s on for the lamb. As for the chickpeas, I have specified home-cooked ones or those out of a jar, as they are so much better than the canned ones, which can make the hummus too bitty. True, the canned chickpeas are much cheaper, but I go for the least expensive option (dried, which I then cook myself) or the most expensive (Spanish ones from a jar) and miss out the middle path, which has none of the virtues of either of the others. However, 2 x 400g – drained – cans of chickpeas can be used in place of those specified. The seed-sprinkled shards of crisp bread you see alongside the hummus here are simple to make: I split open some wholemeal flatbreads, bought from a nearby Middle-Eastern shop, pour some olive oil on them, sprinkle them with sesame seeds and bake them, on a rack, in a 220ºC/gas mark 7 oven for 5 minutes, then break them up when they are handle-able. True, they are too delicate to dip, so you have to spoon the hummus on, but they are very good. Otherwise, grissini, toasted pitta torn into bits, or crudités make the perfect accompaniment for greedy dippage.

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1 large bulb garlic, whole and unpeeled
500g cooked chickpeas (from dried) or 1 x 660g jar chickpeas or 2 x 400g cans chickpeas, drained
1 unwaxed lemon, zest and juice
4 x 15ml tbsp tahini
4 x 15ml tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle on top
4 x 15ml tbsp cold water
1 tsp sea salt flakes, or to taste
good grinding of white pepper


Preheat the oven to 220ºC/gas mark 7. Cut the top off the bulb of garlic, so that you can just see the tops of the cloves peeking through, discard the top, then sit the bulb on a piece of kitchen foil and seal the ends tightly, while leaving the parcel slightly baggy. Sit it on a small foil tray (or similar) and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Let it cool in the foil wrapping.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas (if using canned or jarred), then tip into a food processor.

Add the lemon zest and juice, and squeeze in the soft flesh from the caramelized garlic.

Spoon in the tahini and the 4 tablespoons of olive oil and then blitz to a smooth purée.

Tip in enough, or all, of the cold water to get the right consistency, adding and blitzing as you go, then add the salt and pepper and check the seasoning. Decant into a bowl and drizzle, if wished, with some more olive oil.

Make ahead note: Can be made up to 2 days ahead and kept, covered, in fridge. If using frozen and thawed chickpeas, best eaten within 24 hours of making.

Store note: Cooked chickpeas should be cooled and refrigerated as quickly as possible and used within 2 days.

Freeze note: The cooked and cooled chickpeas can be frozen, in airtight containers or resealable bags, for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in fridge.

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From the book: Simply Nigella: Feel Good Food

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