A hymn to hummous




This recipe has been revised and reposted HERE.


Whether you spell it hummous, hummus, hommus, or hummos, it is all the same:  a tasty Middle Eastern spread with which the Western world has been fascinated for many years.   You can find the spread  anywhere from upscale markets and food coops, to Costco.  I worked at a health food restaurant years ago called the Sunset Cafe, while I was in college.  I worked there for about six years, on and off, and their specialty was their tahini sauce which they sold by the gallons, their home-made breads and dressings, and most importantly, their hummous.  It was very good hummous, and if around the stuff for long enough, one found that it became addictive.  It was such a popular restaurant, they even published their own cookbook.  Inside, one can find a recipe for their hummous.  I have a copy, and peeked inside recently, just to see how they made the stuff.  Only problem is, it isn’t really how they made it.

I don’t know why, but ever since my early twenties, I have been near obsessed with finding the perfect hummous.  In my hometown in North Carolina, I used to frequent a store at the far end of town which imported food from the Middle East.  Aside from grocery items such as orange flower water, cherry juice, and huge, amazing purple Spanish olives, the owner, who was from Egypt, also had a deli where one could find such delicacies as mouth watering baba ganoush, and of course, downright orgasmic hummous.  I remember lovely picnics at the gorgeous, Bur-Mil park, sunny days, on a small strip of land, surrounded on both sides by lakes, few people, devouring huge bowls of the stuff with amazingly soft pita bread.  It was my principle staple during college, and I often ate  it as a late night snack, or early morning before class, dipping a couple veggie sausages in it, or on a whole wheat bagel with some greek black olives. Those memories are precious.

Having worked at Sunset Cafe so long, I was able to do numerous jobs there, including but not limited to, food preparation.  Aside from making many wonderful foods, I was also a hummous maker there, and yet, I never learned how to do it at home.  I tried and tried over the years, but could never get it right.  I found that the consistency was either too smooth or too thick, or the flavor was not quite what I was looking for.  Finally, I joined the rest of the U.S., and I started buying containers of it now and again.

This year, Christopher and I took a trip to Astoria, Oregon.  It is a quaint, beautiful town worth visiting.  While there, we found the local coop grocery.  It was a good one, with lovely produce and the like, and inside one of the refrigerators, we saw hummous through the window, sporting an appealing garnish of chopped kalamata olives.  Our stomachs told us to buy some.  We were starving from our long walk up to the Astoria column that morning to get a view of the city from up high.  We were not disappointed.  After one bite, I was transported back to my hometown, warm and sunny days, and a full stomach.

After seeing the movie, Low Impact Man, we began thinking of more environmentally friendly ways of eating and living.  Aside from cloth napkins, buying local, trying to make less trash etc., we also talked about luxury food items.  Since hummous is one serious food indulgence I have, we thought it was a good idea to make it, as opposed to continually buying plastic containers; even if they are recyclable.  I wrote down on a shopping list the ingredients I wanted in my hummous, including greek black olives and their brine, and then I gave Christopher the list.  My hope was that he would be able to search online and find a recipe which would include those two items, and also to get a good idea of the proportions of all of the ingredients.  He found a few recipes, and using his very creative, and mathematical brain, he was able to produce what I think is a fabulous recipe for hummous, and one which I think you will all be glad you have at your disposal.

A few things you need to note:

cp=chick peas (a.k.a. garbanzos)

Soaking the chick peas overnight helps the cooking go faster the next day. When you dump the water from the overnight soaking, and you rinse chick peas well, make sure the water you pour in the pot more than covers all the c.p.’s. I suggest covering by about 4 inches. Put the cp on the stove to boil, and while bringing to a boil, and a good few pinches of baking soda. This was a trick I learned in Spain while living there for five years. This is to, shall we say, eliminate wind, or if not, lessen the gas creation in the gut. This is an important step, not to be overlooked! I can tell you that it really works, if you use enough.

Also worth noting:

The skins on the cp are hard to digest. The best, and easiest way to remove the skins is to cook cp just until skins begin floating to the surface. This usually happens when cp are 3/4 done. If you wait until the cp are very soft, then you will not be able separate the skins from the cp, and the cp will leave the pot as well. So, take the pot to the sink when you see the skins. Fill the pot with cold water. Use a big spoon to agitate the cp. Watch as even more skins come to the surface. Carefully dump excess water, along with the skins into the sink. Add lots of cold water, agitate with spoon, and repeat. Do this as many times as you have the patience for. I think we did it about five times. Then, refill the pot, covering cp 3 or four inches above them in water. Continue boiling until soft, drain.

Here is the lovely recipe my sweetie lumps made:

4 cups soaked, cooked, strained and tender, mostly skinned, chick peas
3/4 cup tahini
3/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 head garlic
10 olives, pitted
1/2 cup olive brine
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground pepper
couple pinches of baking soda

Combine the ingredients, in any order, in a blender and flip the switch,(low works better and doesn’t burn out the motor, if you have patience) stopping periodically to push the ingredients at the top toward the bottom, to get mixed in(make sure blade has come to a complete stop before sticking spoon in of course!):

**Garnish with Greek golden peperoncini, or Salonika peppers on the side, and top with a sprinkle of paprika, a sprig of parsley and a small circular drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

I hope you enjoy as much as we, our friends and neighbors have!

Happy New Year

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