Here's how the conversation transpired 9 years ago:
Friend: Do you want to get some hummus for dinner?
Me: Err, what's a hummus?
Friend: It is a Middle Eastern dish made with chickpeas.
Me: What is chickpeas, does it has anything to do with chicken?
Friend: No, it is a kind of legume.
Me: What do you eat it with?
Friend: Just pita bread.
Me: This is like going to a restaurant and ordering just plain rice for dinner.
Alas, that was 9 years ago!
Some of you might be having the same conversation in your head - "what's hummus"?
Hummus is made of chickpeas, a.k.a. garbanzo beans, that are boiled and then ground to smooth paste. It is like making peanut butter, except, chickpeas are low in fat and high in protein. Making chickpeas/hummus a very healthy food. Hummus is either served as an appetizer or itself could be the main course. So I was wrong when I compared eating hummus to eating rice because hummus is much more nutritious than rice.
You can either use canned/cooked chickpeas or raw chickpeas, which require slightly more prep work but well worth the effort. The other key ingredient of making delicious hummus is tahini sauce, which is white sesame paste. Tahini sauce cost too much in the grocery so I decided to make my own tahini sauce.
Ingredients: (yield about 1 large bowl)
0.5lb raw chickpeas (about 1 cup)
Quater cup of raw white sesame seeds
1 clove of garlic, chopped/crushed into small pieces
1 lemon, juiced
salt to taste
Prepping the chickpeas
1. Soak chickpeas in water overnight for a few hours or overnight.
2. Drain the water and replace with just enough water to cover the chickpeas.
3. Cook the chickpeas either by steaming or in a pot on the stove top (KEEP THE COOKING JUICE).
4. Set aside.
Prepping the tahini sauce
1. Toast the sesame seed on a pan until it turns slightly golden brown.
2. Transfer the sesame seed to a mortar and add some olive oil. Beat the sesame paste with a pestle until it becomes a paste. Add more oil when the paste is too dry.
Putting all together:
1. Transfer the cooked chickpeas into the blender, add some olive oil and beat the chickpeas until it becomes a paste. Add some cooking juice when the paste becomes too dry.
2. Add the tahini sauce, lemon juice, garlic and salt and blend again.
3. Adjust the consistency and taste with more oil, cooking juice, lemon juice and salt until you reach the consistency and taste that you like. (Apologize to folks who have never tried hummus since you won't know what's the "right" consistency or taste, or you can just wing it)
I have made 3 batches of hummus within a short period of 1 month and I have learned a few things that I would like to share with you
1. Toasted and crushed white sesame seeds smell heavenly. The aroma is like nothing I have smell before.
2. Make sure you use a cylindrical blender, not a conical blender. This is key to making smooth hummus as cylindrical blender ensures more even blending than a conical blender.
3. Do not skimp on the lemon juice. The tanginess of the lemon juice adds complexity to the hummus.
4. You might read in certain blogs that recommend removing the skin of the chickpeas after cooking to ensure a smooth hummus. I did not do this because it requires a lot of effort (try peeling 50 chickpeas), and that coarse chickpeas adds texture, besides I am sure there are some nutritious value in chickpeans skin.
So there you go, a snack as healthy as it gets, rich in protein, low in fat and easy to make! A spoonful of this keeps you going for a while.