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The most economical way to make hummus is to buy dried chickpeas and cook them. They also seem tastier than the canned versions, so worth the effort. However, when caught for time, and not worried about budget, a can of chickpeas will do.
Soak and cook a large quantity of dried chickpeas and drain and freeze whatever quantity you don’t need. I put handfuls in freezer bags to add to soups and stews or to buzz up a small quantity of hummus later.
I like a lot of lemon juice in my hummus, so adjust down if you like it heavier. Use it to spread on bread instead of butter, adding tomatoes, peppers, a little roquet salad mixed with lamb’s lettuce. I like Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe in his book Jerusalem for lamb karawma where hummus is used with neck fillet of lamb, fried until pink and topped with a lemon sauce. You can make your own tahini paste too. There are plenty of recipes on line. Supermarkets often have sesame seeds at bargain prices.
I use hummus to make a sauce at the end of stir-frying, as a sauce with noodles and vegetables and to rescue stews which need to be thickened. It can be frozen for this purpose. Its obvious use is as a dip and topping for bread and is particularly good with a few lightly crushed or whole chickpeas added for textural interest. The possibilities are endless.
300g dried chickpeas
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
300g tahini paste
4 cloves garlic, grated
5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Ground cumin (optional)
Wash the chickpeas and add cold water to at least double their height. They will swell up considerably. Leave overnight or for at least 6 hours.
Drain and place in a saucepan over high heat with the bicarbonate of soda. Stir for 5 minutes to add flavour. Add about 2 litres water to cover and bring to the boil. Immediately and throughout the cooking time a dirty scum will form on top. Remove this as you see it. Test the chickpeas after 20 minutes. They need to be tender and cooked through, but not falling apart. If they overcook the water will dilute the taste. Some hard chickpeas have taken me an hour to cook, so allow the time.
Drain and add to a blender and mix until a paste forms.
With the motor running, loosen out the mixture by dropping in a tablespoon of the water (as cold as possible), then the garlic, lemon juice, cumin if using, and plenty of salt. You could need as much as 2 teaspoons, but try one first. How much is needed often depend on the toastiness of the sesame paste. The taste will mature a little, so don’t over-salt. Keep the motor on while adding the remaining water, slowly so the result is a smooth paste.
Place in a big bowl or divide into pots if not using it all together. Cover with cling film and keep cool. This needs to be refrigerated if keeping for longer than a few hours. It keeps a few days, but not for weeks.