Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hummus bi Tahine. Terrifyingly Good.

Hummus is one of those elusive things, here at Madras. When you can actually lay your hands on a bowlful, you realise you've been set up for disappointment.

The one at Kryptos is amazing, but not something you can just pop out and get a takeaway bowl of. Seashell used to make decent hummus, but now, it's made of peanuts. Hummus, literally translated, means Chickpea. You wouldn't spread chickpea butter on your toast, would you now? Azulia at GRT, Kefi at Taj Mount and Yalla! Yalla! at Radisson are again 4-rupee symbols expensive.

Back to the kitchen board.

Hummus is as easy as batch of brownies (not out of a box) to whip up. Obviously, the absence of exotic ingredients is a bummer, but it's pretty easy to skirt around those issues. Everybody has chickpeas, sesame seeds, and Extra-Virgin Olive Oil at home, right? Even Del Monte makes Olive oil, so no excuses for not trying out.

And if you decide to try it out (I insist, really), do give the full recipe a good read. You don't want to be discarding the cooking water or anything, because then you'll just have bland chutney.

Hummus bi Tahini/Hummus with Tahina.


3 cups cooked chickpeas* or  2 (15oz) cans of Garbanzo beans
1/2 cup tahini (recipe follows)**
5 garlic cloves
1/2 cup lemon juice (100 ml)
Olive oil, mint, Paprika (cayenne), cumin, for serving.


Roast a couple of tablespoons of cumin (black zeera/perun jeeragam). Powder fine in the mixie or with a mortar and pestle. Keep aside.

In a food processor/mixie, combine the garlic and salt, and pulse to chop.

Add tahini and lemon juice (no seeds, and don't squeeze the life out of them-bitter juice is a no-no), and blitz until the mixture looks thick and whitened.

Add the drained chickpeas to the mixie, a little at a time, with a few spoonfuls of the water it's been boiled/canned in. Blitz, blitz, blitz.

I did batches at a time because my mixie wouldn't hold as much.

Thin it down with the cooking water, until it reaches the desired hummus-like consistency.

Taste it. Adjust the salt and lemon juice. Add in the powdered cumin before the last blitz.

Pour it out into the serving bowl. Make a circular indentation (almost like a well) and pour in the olive oil.
Let it soak in the olive oil for at least an hour.
Garnish with chopped mint/parsley, cumin or paprika.

Serve with pita bread, cucumber, carrot and bell pepper strips. Or cut a roti into triangles, bake it in the oven for ten minutes, and make mock pita chips. I bought a box of these wheat crisps at La Chocolate Patisserie.

Recipe source: Desert Candy

**For the tahini.

Recipe source: ME! Yay.

2/3 cup white sesame seeds.
2 tbsps olive oil/sunflower oil.


Toast the sesame seeds on low heat. When they start turning golden and give off that characteristically nutty aroma, take off the heat. When cool, throw it in the mixie with the oil and pulse until it looks like this paste.

Use as required.

*How to cook Chickpeas:

Soak 1 and a 1/2 cups of dried white chickpeas (konda kadalai) in water overnight.

Drain the chickpeas. Transfer them to a pressure cooker and flood with salted water (1 inch above the chickpeas). Cover, and heat on medium-high, with the 'weight' on.

After 4-5 whistles, take it off the heat. Don't open it immediately. After 15 minutes, take it out. DO NOT DISCARD cooking water.

Take the skin off the chickpeas if you want a smooth hummus. I couldn't lose all that fibre, so I just left the skin on my chickpeas. I'll just say I like things with a bite to them if I'm questioned on the consistency.

This is comfort food, fashioned out of kadalaka and yellu. And to think I was going to add an Exotic label to this post.

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