Hummus Challenges

February 27, 2012

How often do you see recipes for “quick and easy” hummus? It’s true, the steps are simple. Cook chickpeas, puree them with tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and salt. Thin with water to reach the desired consistency, season to taste. Easy right? Yes…but…it still drives me crazy sometimes.

There are a few variables that fell into the cracks. How many different brands of chickpeas are there? They behave differently. How much did they break down when cooked? What about the consistency of the tahini? This will determine how much water gets added at the end. Desired consistency? It changes when the hummus is refrigerated. Season to taste? the flavours also mellow.

I’d like to share a few tips that I dug out of the cracks and that are key to achieving consistently delicious results.

1. Properly cooked chickpeas – The chickpeas need to be mushy…mushier than you would cook them for anything else. In this state they’ve absorbed enough water and can be pureed initially before other ingredients are added. The images in the top right (below) show the chickpeas at different states – dried, soaked, and cooked. Adding baking soda to the soaking and/or cooking water helps them break down faster.

2. The initial puree – Ideally you can achieve a pureed consistency before adding more water. Getting it to this state is the most important step to perfectly smooth hummus, if that’s what you’re after. It also helps if they are warm. The image of the pureed chickpeas below is the ideal consistency to start with before adding water. If this isn’t working out (and sometimes it doesn’t) add water, little by little until you can make a puree.

3. The other ingredients – I totally appreciate the creative takes and variations that people often share, but I often see recipes calling for olive oil in the hummus. In my opinion that messes with the flavour. A good extra-virgin olive oil is best reserved as a garnish, as is the cumin. Except for the additional water, it doesn’t really matter if the other ingredients are added initially with the chickpeas, but I prefer to do that as a second step after the initial puree to better monitor the texture.

4. Adjusting the texture – The biggest thing here is that the hummus needs more liquid than you think, as it does get quite a bit denser once refrigerated – see bottom left images for initial vs. refrigerated texture. The quantity of water added can range dramatically, based on chickpea and tahini brands, and initial cooking water absorption. This is one thing that shouldn’t be strictly followed from a recipe, it’s almost never consistent and keen observation is way more important.

5. Adjusting the seasoning – Like anything else we cook, tasting and adjusting is important in achieving balanced flavours. The important thing to remember here is that the flavours mellow once the hummus is refrigerated, so if it tastes just right, I add another pinch of salt and squeeze of lemon juice. This subjective art takes a bit of practice but the results are worth it.

hummus

Classic Hummus
 
I’ve settled on this recipe by experimenting with different ratios for a few years now. Though this is a good place to start, the process is more important – feel free to create your own recipe!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • water for cooking (reserve for thinning)
  • 1 cup tahini
  • 1 large clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • extra-virgin olive oil (garnish, optional)
  • cumin (garnish, optional)
  • olives (garnish, optional)
Instructions
  1. Soak chickpeas in water overnight, or at least 8 hours.
  2. In a medium pot, cover chickpeas with water by at least an inch, add baking soda. Bring to a boil over high heat, and lower heat to medium-low to simmer until starting to break down and mushy, about 1 hour. Add more water if needed.
  3. Drain and reserve cooking water. Transfer chickpeas to a food processor and puree until smooth. If this isn’t working out, add reserved water, a teaspoon at a time, until smooth.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and continue to puree.
  5. Continuing to puree, add more of the cooking water, a little at a time, to adjust consistency (see tip #4 above – important!).
  6. Adjust lemon juice and salt if necessary.
Store refrigerated for up to 1 week. Makes about 3 cups.

I ♥ Your Comments!

  1. I have never made hummus before so thanks for the tips!! Looks wonderful. I love the style of your blog. Thanks for posting this

  2. You didn’t mention removing the chick pea husks. That makes the hummus extra smooth.

  3. Curious to know if removing the husks is necessary? Is the change in consistency the only difference?

    • Sofia

      Kyli – Thanks for stopping by! You should definitely try making it at home, so much better than the store bought stuff.

      Marilyn, Stephanie – I’ve tried removing the husks before and it was really time consuming and the difference seemed marginal, is there a quick way to do it? Maybe I’ll give it another try.

  4. ChicagoCurly

    Where has tip #2 been my entire life (I used to chuck everything together and blitz)?!?! Made a batch this afternoon, adhering to the steps outlined above, and the results can be summed up in two words – whoa mama!! Best. Hummus. Ever. Tip #2 has forever changed the way I make hummus. Many thanks. :)

    • Sofia

      I’m so happy to hear that you found the tips helpful:) Tip #2 (and probably #4) are the most important ones as far as the consistency goes. Thanks for your comment!

  5. You have made it possible for me to enjoy the hummus I have always wanted to make at home! I love the texture: the creamy richness of the tahini combined with the hint of tang from the lemon. This recipe has been printed and promptly placed in my recipe book. Thank you!

  6. Masha K (Alec/Emma/Michael)

    Hi Sophia,

    Tried this recipe yesterday! Was eating eat by tablespoons! Delish!!!

  7. Irina

    It’s time to make one!
    Question-is any tahini will do the job? Is any preferences?
    Thanks!

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