Hummus is seemingly one of those dead easy things to make – just throw a drained can of chickpeas in a food processor and whiz it up with garlic, lemon and tahini ... Oh, hold on a minute, if you want to make an exceptional hummus, there's more to it than that.
1 cup dried chickpeas
8 cups water
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
½ cup tahini
2 tsp flaky sea salt, or to taste
3-4 Tbsp strained lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Smoked paprika for dusting
1 Soak chickpeas in plenty of cold water overnight, or for around 18 hours. (Yes! 18 hours.) Drain. Transfer to a saucepan and cover with measured water and bicarbonate of soda. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook without a lid at a gentle bubble for about 30 minutes, or until the chickpeas are very tender and mushy when squished. Skim the foam off the water from time to time during the cooking.
2 Drain chickpeas, reserving the cooking water (see Aquafaba). Flick off as many skins as you can, then cover chickpeas with paper towels and leave until cool.
3 Crush garlic on a board with half a teaspoon of the measured salt using a flat-bladed knife, then continue to work it with the knife until it turns into a thick purée.
4 Transfer chickpeas to the bowl of a food processor picking off as many skins as you can. Add garlic, extra salt and tahini. Process until smooth, then add 3 tablespoons strained lemon juice. Process for 2 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and lemon juice. Add enough chilled water to turn the humus into a ‘dip-able’ mixture (chilled water will help keep the hummus cool; 2 minutes’ processing warms it up).
5 Transfer to a serving dish, swirl a knife through the top, then drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and sieve over a little smoked paprika. Serve with bread. If not for immediate use, transfer to a container, cover and chill; the hummus will keep for 4-5 days.
Bicarbonate of soda is more commonly known as baking soda.
Tahini is a thick, oily paste made from toasted sesame seeds. Mix with yoghurt and garlic, or with cooked, mashed eggplant and garlic to make a delicious dip. Keep refrigerated. I use an oily and ‘liquidy’ tahini. I find ‘natural’ unhulled coarse-textured tahini does not produce such a smooth result. Use Lisbon, Yen Ben, Villa Franca or other sharp lemons, not Meyer, which are too sweet and will not give the hummus the right acid punch.