When we talk about Hummus bi Tahina, Meze always come to mind. Meze or mezze is a selection of small dishes served in the Middle East and the Balkans. The word Meze in Turkish means “taste, flavour, snack, relish” and has been borrowed from Persian. Meze is also an integral part of the Lebanese cuisine. I recently read one of the blogs stating, “If you go into someone’s home in Lebanon and they offered a drink – but no bowl of nuts or seeds, you should go… just get up and leave immediately”. So its a given that meze is a serious business in Middle East & its decadent cuisine.
The most famous and widely propagated part of meze are dips like “Hummus” & “Labneh“. Hummus actually translates to “Chickpeas” (or Kabuli Chana or Garbanzo Beans) which indeed are the main ingredient. So when someone asks for hummus, they are usually referring to hummus bi tahina or hummus with tahini dip, and not just chickpeas.
I have been enamoured with the silky smooth Hummus bi Tahina for a long time now and it is an essential, unavoidable, has-to-be-there, dip for all my parties. It has always been appreciated by all and needless to say (but I will still say it) that I can eat it by the bowl. On the other hand, I have also been through blasphemous moments when hummus has been referred to a “chickpea paste”. Gosh!! That’s too cruel for such a wonderful creation.
Hummus bi Tahina can be snacked on by itself or as as a dip for almost anything, including nuts, vegetables, meats and pita bread and crisps. Here is how you can get your hummus with tahini right and glam up your snacks or dinner table.
What you need to make Hummus ?
|Chickpeas (or Kabuli Chana)||(or Garbanzo Beans)||1/2 Cups yields 2 Cups after boiling|
|Garlic||Fresh. 5 whole and 5 minced||10 Cloves|
|Tahini (Sesame seed paste)||I used Koska||5 Tablespoons|
|Cumin Powder||Broiled||2 Teaspoons|
|Lemon Juice||Freshly squeezed||4 Tablespoons|
|Pimento or Cherry Pepper||For Garnish||1/4 Teaspoon|
|Za’atar Spice||For Garnish||1/4 Teaspoon|
|Cooking Liquid||Save after boiling chickpeas||9 Tablespoons|
|Extra Virgin Olive Oil||7 Tablespoons|
- Soak the chickpeas/ kabuli chana/ garbanzo beans overnight or about 15-18 hours in 2 cups of water.
- Drain the water and rinse the chickpeas thoroughly.
- Add the chickpeas and 5 whole cloves to a pressure cooker and give six (6) whistles. Let pressure subside by itself. This really speeds up the cooking process. Drain and reserve the cooking liquid (very important for that deep flavour). The chickpeas upon boiling will become really soft and break easily between two fingers. You may choose to remove the skin as some people in the blogosphere suggest, though its not essential and saves a lot of time as well.
- Add tahini and half of lemon juice to your food processor and fluff it up. Blend it at least for a minute and then add the minced garlic, broiled cumin powder and salt to taste and blend really well once again. Blending really well is the key to that perfect hummus bi tahina.
- Add the boiled chickpeas and process. Ensure that you blend it really well so that the paste is nice and smooth. To get the right consistency add five (5) tablespoons really slow to the container followed by nine (9) tablespoons of reserved cooking liquid. You may adjust the quantity as per your requirement, however, do bear in mind that the paste will get thicker with time so in my opinion a little more of cooking liquid will not harm much.
- Blend well till you get a really silken paste. I have to say this again and again. Though, If you like your hummus a little grainier, blend a little less and stop at a prior coarser paste.
- Plate it in a flat plate or a similar bowl. Move your spatula to make uneven surfaces and drizzle with remaining olive oil
- Garnish it with pimento, za’atar spice and refrigerate till it cools down.
- Serve with your chosen snack.
Visual Process for making Hummus bi Tahina
Adaptations & Suggestions
While the recipe listed here is as close it can get to authentic, you should try out to adapt it to your tastes. I am positive that you will be really happy with the results.
- You can replace pimento with sweet paprika, paprika or any other chilli powder and even flakes. Just be careful about how much heat do you want to add to your hummus bi tahina.
- Za’atar spice is easily available in premium stores in India now though its definitely costly. The one I picked up is Rs.225 for a mere 38 grams. You can easily replace this with oregano, parsley, thyme, chives or even a mixture of all these. By all means use that saved pizza seasoning of yours.
- Play around with lemon, garlic and olive oil to suit your taste.
- Serve hummus bi tahina with almost anything and you’ll always be happy about doing it.
- To cool hummus sooner, you can add around four (4) ice cubes during the final blend.
- Some people like to add some hung curd to their hummus as well while blending to make the paste even smoother.
- Do not add salt to the chickpeas while boiling, it will just take longer to cook them.