Friday, July 26, 2013

My Hilarious Experiment with Hummus


 
 

Hummus is a dip or spread made from cooked chickpeas (channa) that have been blended with spices. It is arabic in origin and totally addictive when made right. You can eat hummus with corn chips or spread it on bread, or even roti. Of course if you have pita bread that would probably be more authentic but to me sada roti and pita bread look alike and taste quite similar.

What I like most about hummus besides the taste is its nutritious-ness (if that's a word) Its yummy and cool enough to be eaten as a dip but its also high in protein and low in fat. Its also super easy to make; it only takes a few ingredients and requires no huge amount of work and fancy spices. If you're a trini, you can get geera (cumin) in any supermarket in Trinidad. The only snag you will come across though will be the tahini which is sesame seed butter. There are some supermarkets that will stock it but unless you plan to make lots of hummus, a huge bottle of tahini makes no sense at all. The cheaper and more practical alternative is peanut butter. Its nutty and although sesame seeds have a distinctive nutty flavour, I find the nuttiness of peanuts an acceptable substitute.

What got me interested in making hummus, was its use of channa. Being trini-indian, I have eaten my share of channa mostly curried channa and aloo. If I did not eat it at least once a week when I was growing up, I definitely would have eaten it at an indian wedding or prayers. Indians in trinidad do love their channa. They also eat deep fried channa as a snack. Curried channa is also a major component of the trini invention “doubles” Doubles is basically a “sandwich” of bara, a fried bread and curried channa. Its the cheapest breakfast in trinidad retailing at an average of $4 trinidad dollars (less than a dollar US). Although there is a place in Penal which sells $2 doubles and aloo pie which is pretty good.

Anyway hummus seemed to be a new way in which I can enjoy channa. My first attempt at making hummus was a disaster; I had tried to make my own tahini and that did not end well for me or the hummus. It also came out rather bland tasting. I think this was due to my unevenly blended sesame seeds, it lacked that depth of flavour that comes from smooth tahini. My other strike was using canned chickpeas, which taste so bland and boring.

This time I gave up on the tahini since I had peanut butter in the fridge and I used channa that had been soaked and cooked in a pressure cooker, not canned. The use of cooked channa made a huge difference in taste, there was a deeper channa-ey flavour and a much more rustic texture. I also wanted to bump up the favour so I added some caramelized onions; I love onions. This time there was no way my hummus was going to be described as bland.

So I assembled my ingredients all excited in front of the blender thinking that in a few minutes I would be munching on hummus. I dropped all my ingredients except the onions in the blender and get a cup of water. Without thinking I drop all the water and press “pureeeeeeeeeeeee”, but a split second before I do this a thought flashed in my mind. “Thats a lot of water for so little channa”

A few “whizzzzzzzzzzzzzes” later and my fears are confirmed, Its hummus soup!
I was a bit distraught staring at the brown liquid while my belly growled in disapproval. Well I decided that I was going to get my hummus one way or the other. Since I had already planned to top my hummus with caramelized onions, I started working on cooking my onions and then when they looked just right I dropped all of my hummus soup into the pot and stirred like crazy. The mixture boiled down to a decent consistency after a few minutes and then I added some chopped parsley and took it off the stove.

Dropping some into a bowl I eyed my creation warily then go in armed with a cracker. My strange hummus tasted amazing, full of flavour and rich and spicy. Success... :)


Hummus Recipe

Serves              3
Skill                 Easy
Time               Channa cooking 1 hour, Assembly 30mins
 Cuisine           Vegetarian, vegan, arabic



1 c channa (chick peas)

3 pinches salt

1 tb peanut butter

juice of ½ lemon

2 garlic cloves

2tb olive oil

1tb parsley chopped

½ onion sliced

1tsp ground geera (cumin)

½ tsp or more chilli powder

pinch black pepper



  1. Soak the chickpeas for a few hour or overnight. Drain the water. Cook for an hour or till tender.
  2. Chop up onions, parsley
  3. Drop cooked chickpeas, garlic, peanut butter, 1tb of olive oil, salt, lemon juice, chilli powder, black pepper, cumin into a blender and whizz till smooth, adding water judiciously until you get a good consistancy
  4. Add remaining oil to pan and caramelize onions and then add to hummus. You can whizz the mixture again or leave the onions. If you wanted you could try my version where you drop your hummus in with your onions and cook. Not sure if thats the reason my hummus tasted so rich and had a deeper flavour. Either way will be yummy.

Tips

  • I cannot give you a good estimation of how much dry channa you will have to cook to get 1 cup of cooked channa, so boil a few cups and cook it and whatever you do not use freeze till a later date.
  • Channa spoils quickly so when making hummus, make ionly what you need.



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