The trick to making hummus that’s as smooth as silk is removing the skins from the chickpeas. Admittedly, while I find it mindless, it can take a while to do. Luckily, Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem provided the answer: a little bicarb (baking soda), some friction (from stirring), and hot water are all you need to loosen them. Don’t use too much, thinking more will loosen them faster–a heavy hand will make the chickpeas taste soapy.
7ml (1½ teaspoons) bicarbonate of soda (baking powder), divided
Hot water, as needed
90 ml (6 tablespoons) tahini
45 ml (3 tablespoons) lemon juice (to taste), divided – juice of one lemon
4 cloves garlic, crushed, to taste (approximately 1½ tablespoons)
1.25 ml (1/4 teaspoon) ground cumin, toasted
Salt, to taste
Cover the chickpeas with two to three times their volume of cold water. Stir in 5 ml (1 teaspoon) of bicarb and let soak for 12 to 24 hours.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Cover with 5 cm (2 inches) of water and stir in the remaining bicarb. Stir constantly as you bring it to the boil. Lower the heat and stop stirring. Simmer gently and skim off any froth and skins every few minutes. Add hot water if the pot risks boiling dry. Cook until the chickpeas are soft. They should squish when pinched between your forefinger and thumb but stop short of being mushy. Depending on your chickpeas, this could take 1-3 hours.
Let cool in the water. Drain well while reserving about 100 ml (6½ tablespoons) of the cooking liquid.
Check the chickpeas for skins—slip off any that remain. If you wish, reserve some whole chickpeas for garnish
Blend the tahini with half the lemon juice and the crushed garlic, then add enough cooled cooking liquid to make a loose paste. Add the chickpeas, a pinch or two of salt, cumin, and whiz adding enough cooking water to make a smooth, creamy paste. Balance flavours to taste. Continue to blend for 3 to 7 minutes, until you’ve got the consistency you want.
Transfer to a bowl, cover with cling film and let rest 30 minutes before serving (or refrigerate until needed).
As a dip: drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with ground cumin, paprika, or za’atar and garnish with cooked chickpeas, serve with pita chips, sliced cucumbers, carrots, or bell peppers
As a side: serve with grilled meats and pitas.
As a main: top with ful medames and hardboiled eggs or top with a mix of sautéed beef or lamb with carmelised onions, garlic and Middle Eastern spices