If you really want to get something awsome you have to start from scratch: “fresh” (uncooked) chickpeas – preferably black. Soak them at least 12 hours in plenty of water and then come back here.
After you have started boiling them – remember, no salt when cooking beans, any beans – you can ‘worry’ about the rest:
1. ‘Heat’: 80% green pepper corns, 10% allspice, 10% cumin. I bash them using a pestle&mortar but you can ground them any way you like.
2. ‘Sauce’: Garlic, freshly grated ginger, preserved lemon, coarse salt. Balance garlic, ginger and preserved lemon exactly as you like it and add 1/2 of the total salt you intend to use. Bash them into a smooth sauce using another pestle&mortar. If you don’t have any preserved lemons add some lemon zest at this step. If you have preserved lemon but have never used it this way follow these steps: separate the skin from the rest – they come apart quite easily, finely dice the skin and add it to the mortar, using a tea strainer add as much juice as possible from the rest of the lemon to the same mortar. Pound away. I usually use a quarter of a lemon to 6 cloves of garlic and a thumbworth of ginger (about two teaspoonfuls).
3. Herbs: Fresh mint, finely chopped.
3. Make handy some good quality tahini, olive oil, fresh lemon and a food processor. Remember to ‘agitate’ the tahini beforehand.
Everything ready? The chickpeas have boiled for about an hour? Time to get busy!
Check if the beans are cooked. If not take five and repeat as many times as necessary. When cooked ‘kill’ the fire and add at least a tea spoonful of salt – presuming the chickpeas are still covered with cooking water. If not, reduce the amount of salt. Replace the lid and let them cool for five or so minutes. Drain the beans, reserving the water.
Now you have to decide how smooth you want your hummus. If you like it chunky – like mine – leave the peas to cool, without any water, covered in the still warm pan were they were cooked, for another hour or even longer. In time they will not only dry on the surface but they will somewhat harden and develop a slightly nutty taste. If you want a smooth hummus you can start processing after about 15 minutes.
Add the chickpeas, equal amounts of ‘sauce’, tahini, olive oil, cooking water, a little lemon juice and some ‘heat’ in the food processor. Blitz and taste. If you want a chunkier end result blitz sparingly, if not – and if you have added enough liquids – you can process for longer. After the first taste add whatever you think it’s missing and build up the tahini of your dream. Towards the end add some chopped mint.
That’s ‘Bon Appétit’ in Romanian.
Hint: You can try it on Rice Waffles instead of Pita or toast. Pickled cucumbers or some olives might come handy at this stage.