Thursday, October 10, 2013

How To Make Really Good Hummus

Hummus is a great snack food. It's tasty and satisfying, which makes it palatable to a lot of people, and it's also much healthier than many other options. It's rich in fiber, protein and unsaturated fats, which carry their own benefits, in addition to promoting satiety when other sugary snacks cause people to crash and burn.

Making hummus is a remarkably simple, but technique matters. Do it wrong and it could end up dry and brittle, or thin and soupy. Additionally, flavor it wrong and you’ll rue the work you put in. With this few ingredients, the flavor is really dependent on things meshing well.

As I said, the ingredients themselves are fairly simple:

1 ¼ cups dried chickpeas
Juice of 2 lemons
2 cloves of garlic (or equivalent measure of garlic powder)
4 tbsp tahini

Step one of making good hummus is to start with dried chickpeas and soak them overnight in cool water (at least 12 hours, up to 24 hours is fine). The chickpeas should absorb most of the water and increase in size.

When the chickpeas are done soaking, boil them in fresh water for at least 90 minutes. Add about a teaspoon. When the beans are very soft, drain them and make sure to reserve the cooking water.

Combine chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini and a small amount of salt in a food processor. Regarding garlic: the flavor of raw garlic will overwhelm the flavor of the beans. You can lightly sautée the garlic to mollify the flavor before adding it, or you can do as I do and use garlic powder. Purists may shudder at garlic powder, but in this case it provides the flavor you want in an easy to use form (however, garlic powder soup is another matter..).

Add a small amount of the cooking water to the mixture and set food processor to puree. I generally recommend starting with ¼ of a cup, and adding at ¼ cup at a time until you reach the desired consistency. I look for a nice smooth, creamy consistency – signaled when the hummus is flowing smoothly through the food processor.

Using the cooking water is a crucial step that many skip – not only does the water provide for optimal consistency of the hummus, but much of the best flavor of the chickpeas is left behind in the cooking water, and leaving that out can result in bland, flavorless hummus.