Variations On A Theme
Hummus is a middle eastern art form unto itself.
Either you have the experienced and practiced art
and taste, innately and intuitively - or you do not.
Hummus has its own Muse, and the following is merely an
expression of TSC's muse; these are but suggestions
for a development according to your own Muse.
This is a "dip type" of hummus; if you save all that
sauce from the chickpeas, and incorporate it, you
will have a thick sauce, also called hummus, this
is used in various middle eastern street food stuffed
into split pita breads.
10 @ garlic cloves, large coarsely chopped
1 tsp salt
10 TBS fresh lemon juice (about 4 medium lemons)
3 TBS olive oil, extra-virgin
2 tsp cumino, ground, dry roasted
(A substitute for 12 TBS of stirred tahini paste)
4-5 TBS sesame seeds, dry roasted
2-3 TBS sesame oil, fragrant and dark
10 TBS peanut butter, smooth
(i.e., 2/3 cup)
30 ozs chickpeas, canned, casually drained
2+ TBS chopped parsley/cilantro
1/4 tsp paprika
a modicum chopped parsley
1. Place the first four(five) ingredients in a food processor and
whiz until the mixture is smooth (or use a large mortar and
pestle or molcajete & tejolote as is your wont); smooth is
the watchword here.
2. Add, to the pulverizing utensil of your choice, the roasted
sesame seeds, sesame oil and peanut butter (or tahini paste).
3. Add the chickpeas and process (or grind your little heart
out) until all is homogeneous and smooth as a baby's popo.
4. Add the chopped parsley, and process (grind) minimally
to insure a good distribution. We want flecks of green
parsley in the bulk of the tan hummus, not a purée of parsley
intermixed with the rest. In a processor, this means
about 5-10 seconds of processing.
5. Remove to a serving bowl (flat), or platter, chill slightly
and serve with a very thin coating of olive oil spread over
Hummus is almost always served as a kind of dip with pita.
It is a matter of taste and personal history whether or not
the pita (cut in pizza like triangles) is toasted, or not.
Toasted pita (unsurprisingly) has a flavor much like
"English muffins"; think about what they are, and how they
are made. TSC believes in toasted pita: cut each pita in
6-8 wedges, put them on a baking sheet, and into a preheated
oven 325 F for about 15-20 minutes.
Serving on/with wedges of English muffin toasted, or toast
triangles also works fine.
Note: Hummus is much better when made, covered and stored in
the refrigerator to be served a day or two later.
1. The essential and ancient ingredients are chickpeas, garlic,
tahini (a sesame seed paste), a fragrant olive oil, lemon
juice - after that, you are on your own, and dependent on
your own artistry. Artistry (the "art" of paying attention)
is all there is; it is the only truth of Hummus and the only
rule. If you are paying attention, understand the natures
of the simple ingredients with which you are dealing in the
context of a whole, understand the function of each of the
ingredients and love them for their unique and individual
contribution you will develop your own and very special,
perfectly balanced proportions and selection of peripheral
and substitutional ingedients - and so create a work of
culinary art that is yours. If you have no idea what the
hell I am talking about - stop reading and go to McDonalds.
2. Peanut butter?!! Yes, you noticed that, and do read aright.
This arose when TSC wanted hummus and he had no tahini.
No tahini was even remotely available - but, sesame seeds
were: back to basics with a few magical incantations, and
you have something very much in the spirit of things and
even, if I dare say so, more flavorful. No, it tastes not
of peanut butter, and you would be hard pressed to taste
even the suggestion of it were you told it was there.
You can make the exact same substitution in Baba Ghanoush;
just do it, and tell no one. Remember that in US, Tahini
is considered "gourmet food", and so carries a ridiculously
high price. The added sweetness of the peanut butter also
acts as a mellowing agent without making the hummus sweet.
3. Other items that are sometimes included are roasted nuts
ground up into it (most often roasted pignoli), and other
roasted ground spices. Some people have also added: tomato,
cilantro, jalapeños, chipotles, carrot (grate first).
We keep it simple here.
4. This version happens to be rather thick, while some people like
to make it almost soupy like bhaba ghanoush. Using
fresh tomato, more olive oil, and some of the water/juice
in which the chickpeas are packed can all be used to thin
the paste out as you like it.
5. The word is from Turkish (humus), that unsurprisingly denotes
mashed chickpeas, but which comes from Arabic (hummus)
meaning chickpeas (ummu, imma, immi).
6. Hummus is a mezze (from Turkish): appetizer, snack, fun food
the kind you can eat easily while sitting around talking with
friends sipping a little arak, ouzo or metaxá - a sense of
human life that in the "west" has all but vanished in its
judeo-christian reptilianisms with which we are all punished
for the sake of punishment.
7. Variant: use roasted garlic totally or partially in place
of raw garlic, and so actually double the amount of garlic.
A very nice variant is to add a few tsps of roasted
8. Do we really want to begin with dried chickpeas?
Of course, this can be done.
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Created: July 27, 2007