Every night on my way home from work, I drive through Little Ethiopia and fantasize about Ethiopian food. Ethiopian food, if you’ve never had it, is usually made of a variety of fantastically spicy stews served on this spongy flat sourdough bread called injera, which is kind of a cross between a pancake and bread. I started thinking about making Ethiopian food at home, and since injera is integral to the Ethiopian food experience, I started scheming as to how to make my own injera too. It’s made from a grain called teff, and you need your own teff based starter that captures wild yeast, and you need to make it over at least three days and …
Do you see where I’m going with this? I literally DRIVE THROUGH LITTLE ETHIOPIA ON MY WAY HOME EVERY DAY. How much easier would it be to just stop one night and pick up some Ethiopian food and injera than it would be to go through the whole rigmarole of finding teff, getting a starter going, making the injera, making the stew not having it taste nearly as good AND then doing the dishes? I’m a big believer in jumping into cooking projects, because homemade is usually better and easy to make, but some culinary escapades just don’t make sense.
Hummus, however, is not one of those escapades. Yes, you can buy about sixteen varieties of hummus at nearly every grocery store, but it is totally worth making at home, since it is 1) a snap to make 2) inexpensive and 3) infinitely customizable.
Start with a can of chickpeas. Yes, you could use dried, and hydrate and soak, which is slightly less expensive, but in my experience, the end result is not so much better or cheaper that the extra dishes and time are merited. But I think I’ve made it abundantly clear how I feel about doing dishes (and did I mention that while I have a dishwasher, it is a miniature one, and does not fit many of the things a normal dishwasher fits?).
Anyway, start with cooked chickpeas — either a can or about a cup and a half of cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed. Put them in your food processor, and start it running. Add 2 cloves garlic, 4-5 tablespoons tahini (tahini is ground sesame paste — it’s available at many supermarkets and seems to last almost indefinitely in the refrigerator) and 5 tablespoons water. The secret to hummus is to add water to smooth it out instead of olive oil. The olive oil will make it gloppy while water will just make it light and fluffy. I don’t add any olive oil except to garnish. Keep blending until smooth and fluffy, then add salt to taste.
This, then, is my recipe for hummus. It’s the way I like it, garlicky and tasting of chickpeas, but feel free to experiment. My friend Carol likes hers with lemon juice and cumin. You can skip the garlic, or add roasted red peppers, or cilantro. I’m really a hummus purist in a way, but I do like to tart it up before serving with a pool of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika.
This, my friends, is a culinary venture worth embarking on.
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed or 1½ c. cooked chickpeas or garbanzo beans
- 4-5 T tahini
- 5 T water
- 2 cloves garlic
- salt, olive oil, smoked paprika to taste
- Combine all ingredients except olive oil and paprika in food processor. Process until smooth and fluffy. Serve with paprika and olive oil and vegetables or pita bread.