Hummus is the definite non-home food—even if you find it often in home-cooked meals. A good restaurant is measured to the quality of its hummus, and hummus in the old days used to be bought at the souk fawwal only. Hummus is prepared today in special professional machines that very finely grind the cooked chickpeas and other ingredients into a silky smooth paste between steel disks (similar to a stone grain grinder). In the old days, hummus was prepared with a special flat wooden pestle, and was crushed and smoothed by hand for nearly an hour!
Home versions today are considered to be good enough made in an electric mixer. The correct proportion of ingredients is always crucial (there should be no overwhelming taste of tahini, garlic, or lemon, there must be a good texture (not runny or too hard), and it must have a fine enough consistency (the chickpeas must be well cooked, and the hummus must run long enough in the mixer). This is a garlic-free version.
- 18 ounces (500 g) dried chickpeas
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (150 g) tahini
- 3/4 cup (170 ml) lemon juice (around 6 lemons)
- Olive oil
- Kamal Mouzawak
Soak the chickpeas in water to cover for 10 hours. Drain, put in a pot, add fresh water to cover, then set to cook over low heat till very tender. Some purists would take off the chickpeas’ outer layer or peel after soaking (by crushing the grains in a kitchen towel), then boil the peeled chickpeas … makes the end result “finer,” they say (I have never tried it, to be honest!). To cook the chickpeas well, the easy way is to add baking soda (1 teaspoon per 1 cup chickpeas) to the cooking water. And the other “healthy” way is to replace the baking soda with a 2-inch (5-cm) piece of kombu (Japanese seaweed).
In a food processor, put the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and salt to taste, and mix long enough to obtain a smooth, silky paste. A hummus should have the consistency of a dip, and not be too thick nor too runny.
Transfer to a bowl, let cool and firm up, and serve with a generous drizzle of olive oil and the accompaniments of your choice.