There is clearly a time and a place for shop-bought houmous, but it’s not in this lifetime you’ll find me buying in what has to be one of the best health:taste ratio snacks in the world. Chick peas are so self-righteously healthy that you can eat houmous by the bucketful and not feel bad about it.
As with all dishes that go back centuries, there are countless recipes to be drawn upon. Felicity Cloake recently wrote a ‘How to cook the perfect….’ on houmous, which was very informative but far too fussy for anyone with a passing hankering for the Middle-Eastern delicacy.
Recipes should act as a springboard for your own tastes: they should demonstrate the basic elements required, and allow enough flexibility for you to fiddle about with the results until they suit you. It seems I’m not alone either, as foodies-du-jour Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Dan Lepard regularly champion learning a few key steps before adding your own twists to their dishes. I hope this recipe will allow you to do just that while keeping washing up to a minimum.
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed well
Juice of 1 lemon
1 clove of garlic roughly chopped (a fairly chunky clove – about the size of a broad bean, but again, you can tinker later on)
1 heaped teaspoon tahini (substitute with peanut butter if you can’t find tahini, or doubt whether you want it kicking around in the cupboard after houmous-gate)
1 tbsp olive oil
Pinch o’ salt
1. Bung all the ingredients except the water in a mini-blender or food processor and blitz.
2. Add water, about a tablespoon at a time, and keep whizzing until you get the consistency that you know and love.
3. Check the salt levels – add more if you fancy
4. Transfer to a bowl and pour over a drizzle of olive oil
5. Choose a suitable vehicle with which to transport the houmous to your mouth. I prefer chunks of a Pide, which is a large, flatish, focaccia-esque Turkish loaf, but if you can’t get one then pitta will do.
Now for the adjustments! Remember that bit about fiddling?
Here’s my favourite variation:
1tsp ground cumin (grind it yourself, if you know what’s good for you)
1/2 tsp turmeric 1/4 tsp chilli powder
A few sprigs of coriander (I will admit here that I tend to just keep a bag of coriander in the freezer. There. I said it.)
Add these ingredients to the ‘original’ houmous and you will have a serious party going.
Obviously for the non-spicy eaters you can just save some of the ‘naked’ houmous for them. You can put it at the back of the room where all the vegetarians are hiding.
Don’t forget to wash it down with something sensible – my wine-savvy friend Hugo Read recommends either Paul Blanck Alsace Auxerrois 2008 (available at Waitrose for about ￡13.50) or a Cederberg or Morgenhof chenin blanc costing ￡8.95 and ￡11.95 respectively (also from Waitrose) .
And of course, please leave a comment to share your own versions!