Saturday, September 22, 2007


This recipe is core to Middle Eastern Arab cuisine and you'll find versions of it served up everywhere you go. As Levantine as 'yani' and the subject of immensely fierce debate if you dare suggest that any one country makes better hummus (or houmus) than the other. If you want to start a real punch up between a bunch of people from the Arab world, try starting with something like 'Of course, the Jordanians make the best huomus!'

I once shared this tip with a Lebanese journalist, who scolded me. 'This,' he said, wagging his finger at me, 'is a typical British trick!'

Fair enough...

A procedural note: you can soak dried chickpeas or boil them or whatever, then mash them through a sieve but it's so much easier to pop a tin and whizz 'em.

Another note: you may wonder why hummus is spelled differently here and there. You are referred to the letters of TE Lawrence to his publisher.

  • 1 tin chickpeas, drained
  • 150ml tahine
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • 1 lemon, juice and finely grated rind
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • @100ml water
  • 1 tsp salt

You can use a blender or a hand whizzer or whatever. Chuck in the chickpeas, tahine, garlic, lemon and 1 tbsp olive oil, then add in about 1/2 the water and 1/2 the salt. Whizz it up, adding water so that it mixes up, but take it easy because you just want it to catch, not go gloopy. Add the remainder of the salt to taste.

Now you've got a whole range of options. Hummus is traditionally served in bowls, a whorl scooped in the centre and a drizzle of oil (the other tablespoon) swirled around it. You can also fry up some pine nuts (snoober in Arabic) and scatter these over it or even create hummus bi lahme, which is a bowl of hummus covered with little flecks of fried lamb.

You eat it by scooping it up with Arabic bread, or pitta or whatever you fancy scooping it up with...

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