Originally from the Middle East, houmous is a simple dish that’s now widely enjoyed across the world. It’s quick and easy to make using only a handful of ingredients and can be enjoyed as a tasty snack with crispy fresh veg, in a sandwich or as part of a meze platter. For those who enjoy a veggie or vegan diet, chickpeas make a good source of protein.
Chickpeas are plentiful in the countries of the Middle East and the word ‘houmous’ is derived from the Arabic for ‘chickpea’. Historians have noted a dish similar to modern houmous being eaten as early as the 13th century.
To make your houmous, take a 400g can of cooked chickpeas (or soak 400g dried chickpeas overnight then simmer in fresh water until tender). Crush a clove of garlic and mix it into a tablespoon of tahini, along with the juice of a lemon and a pinch of cumin. Put the chickpeas and tahini mix into a food processor and pulse to a coarse paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Top tips for creating a tantalising houmous:
1. Ingredients are key – when picking out your ingredients make sure you select quality produce – you’ll really taste the difference in the finished dish. So squeeze your own fresh lemons rather than using bottled lemon juice, crush pungent fresh garlic and opt for fruity extra-virgin olive oil. And make sure you select a rich and flavour-packed tahini for that unmistakeable sesame hit.
2. Don’t rush – though making houmous is easy, it can’t be rushed. Soak your chickpeas overnight so that when they’re cooked they’ll be soft and easy to mash.
3. Make it less fiddly – make removing your chickpea skins easy by adding a sprinkle of baking soda and your chickpeas to a bowl of ice-cold water. This will encourage the skins to rub off more easily.
4. Be generous – don’t worry about being exact with quantities and add lemon juice, seasoning and tahini to your own taste.
5. Now let’s get mixing – to reduce the arm ache and achieve the perfect texture use a food processor to mix all the ingredients. A trick for achieving the perfect light-coarse texture is to combine all of the other ingredients before adding the chickpeas. Then give the houmous a few good pulses, stopping before the mixture gets too soft.
6. To finish – drizzle your fruity olive oil over the houmous and serve immediately with warmed pitta, carrots and cucumber for scooping and some salty black olives.