in search of the perfect homemade humous….

Oh, I’ve been a bit rubbish again recently…. not fed up rubbish (my trip to St. Ives was worth it’s weight in gold…. and I reckon St. Ives probably weighs quite a lot all told!) but I have been a bit scatty (no change there)…. still trying to achieve some focus…  in creative terms, I discussed this problem with a textile artist that I met in St. Ives….. I’ve been meaning to write about it… I will, I promise but not today…..

Humous has been the focus of my attentions this week….  I don’t even know if that’s how you spell it, but everyone seems to spell it differently… humous, hummous, hummus… whatever…. that greek, garlicy, chickpea business that is too addictive….. and the spelling issue is telling because no-one seems to be able to agree on the best way to make it either…. tinned vs dried chickpeas…. skin on vs skin off chickpeas…. added oil vs no oil…. tahini vs no tahini….. added extras like peppers or tomato vs purist humous…. the arguments seem to go on and on.

(apols for the generic chickpeas pic (BBC) I forgot to take a picture!)

Anyway, despite discovering that homemade humous is a hotbed of controversy and despite the fact that whenever I’ve made it in the past it just never turned out quite right, I had decided that I wanted to make some for a ‘fuddle’ aka ‘pot luck lunch’ at work this week because it’s super cheap and everyone loves humous (especially in the voluntary sector :)  )

In the past my humous difficulties have included:

  • too much tahini…. rancid
  • too much garlic…. burny and stinky and temporary loss of use of tasebuds
  • too little salt…. tasteless
  • undercooked chickpeas…. lumpy and horrid
  • not well blended garlic…. erratic tasteless/ultra burny-ness

so I decided to research and master the humous…..

I agree that home cooked chickpeas are best, tinned ones always seem a bit watery and flavorless for me. Nigella apparently soaks and boils her chickpeas with added bicarb to reduce cooking time (because they do take forever)…. I’m not keen on this as I have had run ins with too much bicarb in things in the past… it is accrid and nasty, bleurgh!

However, with all beans and big pulses I now soak at least overnight (24 hours for chickpeas) change the water and boil them hard in a saucepan for 20 mins whilst eating my breakfast, boiling a kettle and heating up the slow cooker….. then I drain the beans, put them in the slowcooker with boiling water and a stock cube on medium until I get home from work…. perfect!

So with about 200g (dried weight) of cooked chickpeas (that I had chilled overnight in the fridge covered in a bit of cooking water to keep them from drying and to use in the humous if necessary) I set to work on the rest…. (ps… skins left on! ….life’s too short!)

I blended together first 2.5 tbsp light tahini, a generous tbsp lemon juice, pinch of sea salt, couple of pinches of ground cumin and the important bit I think was 2 cloves of garlic that had been ground in a pestle and mortar with a pinch of salt until in a paste….. I reckon this blends better.

When this was blended I added half the chickpeas, with a slotted spoon and blended until smooth, then the other half, until smooth (I didn’t need to add any extra cooking liquid)…. then I added 1tbsp of olive oil and blended again.

After tasting I thought the tahini was too prominent so I added another tbsp lemon juice, another pinch of cumin and another clove of garlic smushed up with a pinch of salt. I blended again lots until it was light and smoothish, then plopped it all in a nice rustic looking dish, evened out the top and covered it in olive oil to prevent it drying, sprinkled over lots of sweet pimenton/paprika and left it covered by a plate overnight in the fridge for the flavours to do that thing they do overnight.

And it was a success…. yay!!  It actually tasted like a good humous and every teeny last bit was eaten!  Humous joy!! I reckon I’ll try it again at the weekend…. next weeks packed lunches sorted!….. I’ll let you know if it works again.

And I took some white sourdough bread (well white bread made with my trusty old wholemeal sour that I resurrected after a couple of months dormant in the fridge) I used this recipe here http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/nov/27/sourdough-recipe-dan-lepard but with my own pre-made sour…. and it’s no knead!! A really simple recipe if you have a good sour and know what you’re looking for in a rise…..  and if your tray of water in the bottom of the oven doesn’t spill and put out the oven…. doh!! but I pulled it back I think…. and every bit of bread got eaten too…. joy!

It’s scary cooking for your colleagues…. especially when I’m the one who usually turns up late with a bag of crisps from the local garage :) ….. but it was great and we also had an amazing chilli, gorgeous pesto, cheese, ham and tomato tarts and some lovely cakes….. hurrah for the fuddle!!

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