Not all crimes can be corrected, but here at Chickpea Lebanese we like to think we are doing our best to combat crimes against hommus. Today I saw a cauliflower “hommus” recipe that contained cauliflower instead of chickpeas. Since “hommus” is the Arabic word for chickpea I’m pretty sure that we can call that a major infraction. It seems to be a trend to call anything containing tahini “hommus”. The real name for what we call hommus is “hommus b’ tahini”, meaning “chickpeas with tahini”. Although there are a variety of different hommus’, and there are regional variations throughout the Middle East.
So let me tell you some things about making the perfect hommus. Hommus only has four main ingredients, chickpeas, tahini, lemon and salt. There is no oil in the traditional preparation of hommus, just in its garnishing. Also we don’t use garlic in basic hummus (we have garlic in our “Hommus Beruti”). So, the main trick to the perfect hommus is in selecting the best ingredients and preparing them in just the right way. Of course, you need the perfect chickpea. We use Ord River chickpeas. You can use tinned chickpeas at home if you like and it will make a better hommus than you can buy in a store, but not perfect. We use Al Kanater tahini, but there are many good quality tahini’s. We love to buy Australian but in the case of Tahini, we haven't found a good one made outside of the Middle East.
Not many Middle Eastern chefs have a written down recipe for hommus, because it is basically to throw the key ingredients into a processor and just adjust lemon, salt and tahini to taste. But this is the recipe we roughly followed at home before we opened a Lebanese Restaurant. So it is not the restaurant recipe, because we don’t exactly have one, and even if we did the chef would never release it without torture.
200g dried chickpeas
200ml good tahini
Lemon to taste
Salt to taste
Soak chickpea overnight, some people add a tablespoon of bicarb soda at this point. Rinse chickpeas thoroughly in the morning and boil with plenty of water. At least 2 inches higher than the chickpeas. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about an hour. Chickpea should be firm but soft. You should be able to be squeeze a chickpea easily between your thumb and index finger.
Drain chickpeas but reserve a cup of the liquid
Using large food process (do in batches if needed) process chickpeas with a teaspoon of salt and lemon to taste).
Add tahini while processing. Make sure you stir tahini before you use it. Adjust salt and lemon to taste.
If you need to thin it down, use the reserved liquid.
Served dressed with olive oil and paprika
P.S. I asked our chef about his secrets for making hommus. He was, I must say, very cagey. He did say the secret was in the preparation and selection of the chickpeas. Do not overcook the chickpeas. He gave me another secret but he wouldn't let me tell you. He did say that the ones from "the coles" are terrible, but we knew that right?