Few foods excite me more than homemade hummus.
Hummus played a key role in my life since my childhood in Nigeria, when my parents found any excuse to make it from scratch for dinner guests. I remember it like it was yesterday – the soft chickpeas blended with tahini and garlic, the shallow grooves showcasing green ripples of olive oil, and the fiery red scotch-bonnet pepper chutney placed in the middle – like a taunt or dare.
While my parents put their finishing touches on the mezze – usually hummus, baba ghanoush, pita bread, olives, pickled red onions and feta – I’d watch from afar, folding napkins. I didn’t know it at the time, but the flavors in my parents’ hummus would forever set the benchmark for every future hummus to grace my life, in years to come.
Where is hummus from?
It would be remiss and irresponsible to share my parent’s recipe without acknowledging the controversy surrounding the origins of hummus. Where did hummus first make its debut? Egypt? Lebanon? Palestine? Iraq? Syria? Jordan? Even India and Nepal claim hummus as their own! While it’s hard to say for sure, most historical evidence points to somewhere in the Middle East and North Africa as the birthplace of hummus.
Equally notable, is that the word “hummus” means chickpeas in Arabic; and is made with four ingredients – chickpeas, tahini (sesame seed paste), garlic and lemon. While variations are aplenty, anything that veers too far away from the main ingredients, is technically no longer hummus.
[UPDATE: To fully appreciate the historical and sociopolitical context of both these points, check out this 2019 Medium article by Farah El Jayyousi, a Palestinian woman living in the US. It might give you a newfound respect for hummus – it did for me.]
Back to this recipe:
Besides being incredibly nutritious (see recipe super-powers below), hummus is surprisingly simple to whip up at home – and a major upgrade from your grocery store hummus.
All you need is:
- cooked/canned chickpeas,
- tahini (buy this from your local Middle-Eastern or health food store),
- good quality olive oil, and
- a food processor or a blender. I personally use a small hand-chopper as it’s easy to clean.
Now, this recipe is one of the simpler ones out there. You’ll find recipes recommending you peel the chickpeas before using. Or to use iced water for just the perfect “whipped” texture.
I’m not into either of those things because it doesn’t seem necessary…but you do you.
Finally, this recipe has a bite. The sharpness of the garlic, tanginess of lemon and nuttiness of tahini definitely shines through, but it’s exactly how I love it.
If you prefer a milder hummus, you may want to start off with half the quantity of garlic, lemon and tahini and work your way up.
How to enjoy it:
Serve your hummus as a starter with raw crunchy vegetables (bell peppers, celery, carrots, cucumber, broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, radishes…..) and whole wheat pita bread; or as a spread on your sandwich or wrap. Or, just go for it and eat it plain with a spoon!
Note: For a variation on this recipe, you can replace the chickpeas with any cooked beans or roasted vegetable. My favorites are eggplant, sweet potato, pumpkin and beetroot. It will no longer be “hummus” but will still be delicious!
Chickpeas or garbanzo beans – Chickpeas have an excellent balance of protein and fiber (14 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber in 1 cup of cooked chickpeas) which makes it a great choice for blood sugar regulation. This is because protein and fiber can help slow down the pace of carb digestion, helping steady the sugar release and absorption in your body. They also contain vitamin C & E, which are antioxidants involved in energy production, as well as cholesterol lowering properties. Finally, chickpeas contain the amino acid tryptophan, which is required for your body to produce serotonin – the mood-boosting “feel good” neurotransmitter.
- Food processor, blender, hand-chopper or mortar and pestle.
- 15 oz. cooked chickpeas (1 can, rinsed and drained)
- 1 big peeled garlic clove (or 2 small)
- 1-2 tbsp. tahini (roasted sesame seed paste)
- 2-3 tbsp. lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
- 3 tbsp. olive oil (extra virgin)
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 2-3 tbsp. water
- 1/2 tsp. cumin powder
- dash chili flakes
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
- Place garlic in a food processor, hand blender or good ol’ fashioned mortar & pestle; process, chop or beat until finely minced.
- Add olive oil, tahini and salt, and blend again until smooth.
- If you want to keep your hummus a little chunky, reserve 1-2 tablespoons of the chickpeas in a separate bowl.
- Add the remaining chickpeas, 2 tbsp. lemon juice and spices (if using) to the food processor and continue to pulse until smooth.
- If the mixture is too thick, you can add a couple teaspoons of water to thin it out.
- Adjust seasoning if needed (might need more salt or lemon juice).
- Spoon mixture into a medium bowl, and if you like, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and more chili flakes.
- Serve with pita bread, crackers, celery sticks, sliced bell peppers, zucchini, carrot sticks or broccoli.