Kick-ass hummous




I use a Cuisinart food processor to make this, and it greatly simplifies things.

Put the peeled garlic cloves in the food processor and chop them up until in fine pieces, or use a knife to the same effect. If you're making hummous for your midwest relatives who can't stand spice, use only 2 medium sized cloves of garlic. If you're making it for your friends who love spicy food, aim for 5-6 large cloves. 4 medium to large cloves is about in the middle. This recipe tends towards the spicy.

Once the garlic doesn't get any smaller, pour the water off the cans of garbanzo beans (save out about half a cup of it for later), and once they're reasonably well drained, dump them into the processor. Put everything else in on top of them, and blend it until smooth and creamy.

I'd suggest making the basic hummous first, without extra flavors added. It took me a few attempts to become happy with the mix of oils, lemon juice, sesame products, etc.

If the mixture is too dry, add something wet to fix it -- if it doesn't smell lemony enough, add lemon juice, if it doesn't seem oily enough, add either olive oil or a flavored oil, and if the flavor seems about right, add garbanzo juice. You're aiming for a thick paste, that won't fall off the spoon if you hold a spoonful upside down.

If you don't have a food processor or blender, you're in for a fun hour-and-a-half or so of mashing garbanzo beans with a fork. I did this once, and hated it. Used food processors can be found for cheap, go get one, borrow one from a friend, whatever.

I don't actually measure any of this stuff, these are my best guesses for the amounts I use. Every batch of hummous I make is different, too, which is part of the fun.

Although I grind the cumin myself, I'm anal that way, and preground cumin is nearly as good.

To make this cheaper, aim for the bulk food section of your favorite store. Bulk spices are between 10x and 100x cheaper than those found in little bottles. Bulk garbanzos are a little bit cheaper than canned, but you have to soak them -- I don't know how long, probably a day or two -- before they're ready to use. You can also avoid the hot oil and sesame oil, if you don't already have them, they're pricey and don't contribute that much to the flavor (but it's definitely better with them).

The absolutely vital hummous flavors are garbanzo beans, garlic and cumin, in roughly that order. The lemon juice and tahini are close behind them, but if it's a garbanzo bean paste with garlic and cumin, it's probably a variety of hummous. The other flavors are what I've come up with over years of making this recipe, which make it really tasty to me.

A note on smoked salmon

I just tried making this recipe with salmon, and I have to call the experiment a complete, if somewhat unexpected, success. I used about 4 oz of hard smoked salmon (not the thin-sliced moist kind). I chopped up the salmon with the garlic, so it was in tiny shreds. I used the basic recipe, but found that with the addition of the salmon, it needed more moisture. I also added perhaps 1/3 C of water (to achieve the right consistency). The flavor wasn't quite right until I'd added about twice the recommended amount of lemon juice, as well.

I can't stress enough that this recipe is all about "spice to taste." Taste as you go along, and see if anything is necessary, and you'll always end up with excellent hummous.

This recipe is Copyright © 2004 by Ian Johnston. Non-commercial use and copying is explicitly allowed. No commercial use may be made of this document, including its use in cookbooks, without written permission from Ian Johnston.

Created by Ian Johnston. Questions? Please mail me.