The hummus you can make at home is just as good as the stuff from the store. But if you’re willing to put in the time, you can go from good to great.
MAKING YOUR OWN hummus is one of those poster children for the pleasures of home cooking: In less time than it takes to run to the store, you can toss some canned chickpeas, tahini and seasonings in the blender and make a batch of your own.
That’s true. But it’s not the whole story. The quickie version is indeed as good as most store-bought packaged hummus. But what I’ve discovered recently is that investing a little more time and effort — OK, sometimes a lot more time and effort — can make hummus much better.
We know this partly because of a spread, no pun intended, of new cookbooks. Thanks to guides like Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (“Jerusalem”), Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook (“Zahav”) and Maureen Abood (“Rose Water & Orange Blossoms”), we have some common guidelines for what boosts hummus from good to great.
For starters, as you might have heard in other contexts, canned chickpeas work fine for most recipes, but starting with dried ones gives you more control over the texture and, arguably, the quality. The enlightening update when it comes to hummus is that softening or eliminating the chickpea skins is another key. The silky, creamy hummus that’s a world apart from most home versions is often a result of cooking the chickpeas with baking soda (and, for some, adding baking soda to the soaking water, too) to soften the skins.
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Some cooks call for actually peeling the skins off the cooked or canned chickpeas (some will naturally slip off thanks to the baking soda); Abood writes that the skins themselves impart a hint of bitterness along with the rougher texture. I’ve never gone this far, but “Smitten Kitchen” blogger and cookbook author Deb Perelman timed herself and swore it took only nine minutes to skin a 15-ounce can’s worth of chickpeas.
Next step: The quality of your tahini, a paste made from sesame seeds, matters a lot. The Philly-made version Solomonov uses at his restaurant is available online (soomfoods.com), but that’s an expensive route when there are other options available at well-stocked markets.
At Mamnoon restaurant, frequently flagged as some of Seattle’s best hummus, the tahini brand the cooks use isn’t sold retail, but co-owner Wassef Haroun says the Tarazi brand is of similar quality and readily available. And — what do you know? — chef Carrie Mashaney cooks her chickpeas in baking soda at Mamnoon, too. Here’s their way to make your homemade hummus not only as good as the packaged version, but as excellent as you’ll find dining out.
1 cup dried chickpeas
Pinch baking soda
2 cloves garlic, microplaned
1/3 cup tahini
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Parsley, cumin, Aleppo pepper and extra-virgin olive oil for garnish
1. Soak the chickpeas overnight.
2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, and cook them with the baking soda in water until extremely tender and slightly falling apart. Drain the chickpeas, reserving a little of the cooking liquid, and cool.
3. Process the chickpeas with the garlic, tahini, lemon juice and salt in a food processor until very smooth, using a little bit of the reserved water to help, if needed.
4. Serve with parsley, cumin and Aleppo pepper sprinkled on top, and drizzle liberally with olive oil.
Recipe courtesy of Carrie Mashaney, Mamnoon