How to Make the Perfect Hummus: A Recipe

If there's one thing that Israelis and Palestinians miss when they're abroad, it's that taste of home in a good bowl of hummus.

The best hummus recipe
The best hummus recipe. Vered Guttman

Being an immigrant, let’s say an Israeli in America, brings with it a constant feeling of longing for that something in the air that reminds you of home: the noise, the people, the words, smells and tastes you can’t always describe. No wonder there are so many ethnic restaurants and supermarkets across the United States. After all, food is the easiest way for an immigrant to bring himself back for a few moments to the place he misses most.

How to Make Hummus Into a Full Middle-Eastern Style Meal: 5 Recipes

For me, and I believe it’s true for many Israelis and Palestinians, what is missed the most is hummus. Good hummus, that is. Freshly made, silky and flavorful. Bon Appetit Magazine declared hummus the dish of 2015, so you’d think good hummus would be easy to come by, but even in Washington D.C., the capital of the free world, it’s not.

Luckily, I dedicated years to perfecting my homemade hummus until it finally was as good as it is back home in Israel.

Hummus may seem like the easiest dip to make. All you need are cooked chickpeas, a good tahini, garlic and lemon juice. But to make it excellent, smooth and not too heavy, you need to remove the skin from the chickpeas, you need to find a good tahini that’s not bitter, and you need to mix it long enough in the food processor to get the right consistency. Nevertheless, it’s still easy to make, and is a hundred times better than anything you’ll find on the supermarket shelves.

Serve it the day you make it, with warm pita, raw onion, cooked chickpeas, tahini sauce and lemon dressing (recipes below).

 

The perfect hummus

Yields 5 cups

INGREDIENTS

2 cups dried chickpeas

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 garlic cloves

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup chickpea cooking water

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 cup tahini

 

DIRECTIONS

1.    The night before you intend to make hummus, put chickpeas in a tall pot and cover with 3-4 quarts water. Soak chickpeas at room temperature overnight. (If you want to soak chickpeas for a full day, keep them in the fridge.)

2.    The next day, drain chickpeas, cover with about 4 inches of fresh water, add baking soda, mix and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Skim foam with a large spoon, lower heat, cover and cook for about an hour, mixing forcefully occasionally (this will help remove the skins), until chickpeas are very soft and almost falling apart. Remove skins as they float to top. The cooking time depends on the chickpea variety and on how fresh the chickpeas are. If after one and a half hours the chickpeas are still not completely soft, there’s usually no use in cooking them further. You can still use them for the hummus, but expect it to be a little grainy.

3.    Keep a cup of the cooking water and drain chickpeas in a colander. Wash chickpeas with cold running water to cool them down a little to room temperature.

4.    Put 4 cups of the cooked chickpeas in a food processor (keep the rest for topping the hummus). Add garlic cloves, lemon juice, 1/2 a cup of the cooking water and salt, and blend for 3 minutes until smooth.

The best hummus recipe
Vered Guttman

5.    Add tahini and blend for another 8 minutes until smooth and fluffy. (If using a Vitamix blender, blending time is shorter, but blend the hummus in two separate batches). Add more of the cooking water if you feel the hummus is too thick; remember that it gets thicker in the fridge if you leave it for more than a day.

6.    Let the hummus rest and thicken for about 30 minutes. Serve in wide bowls, topped with tahini sauce (recipe below), lemon-chili dressing (recipe below), cooked chickpeas and roasted pine nuts, or any combination of these toppings, or keep in an airtight container for up to three days in the fridge.

 

Tahini sauce

This sauce is wonderful on its own, as long as the tahini you’re using is of good quality. The best way to test the raw tahini is to check whether it tastes good and is not bitter. Palestinian brand Al Arz tahini is my favorite available in the United States.

Yields 2 cups

INGREDIENTS

1 cup tahini

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup cold water

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

 

DIRECTIONS

1.    Put all ingredients in blender or food processor and blend for 3 minutes until smooth. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge up to a week.

 

Lemon-chili dressing for hummus

Yields 1/2 cup

DIRECTIONS

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1-2 Thai or Serrano chili peppers, seeded and thinly sliced

1 minced garlic clove (optional)

 

INGREDIENTS

1. Mix all ingredients and serve over hummus. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.