When I first moved back to Portland, I started doing a weekly language exchange with a guy from Lebanon. He has a Ph.D from an American university, and worked as an engineer here in Portland, so suffice to say that I probably benefited from the exchange, linguistically, more than he did. I’m quite grateful, actually, that he was patient enough with my very-beginner level Arabic – which sadly hasn’t advanced much in the past year.
This post, however, is not about the lamentable state of my progress in Arabic. It’s about food. Although my language partner said that he was not much of a chef, when he came to one of our parties he brought a large container of homemade hummus. It was totally smooth, perfectly seasoned and unbelievably delicious in just about every way.
I’ve always been a fan of hummus. In New York, we used to buy it from Trader Joes until we started trying to limit the number of plastic containers we used. At that time I tried to make hummus for the first time, but totally by hand: We didn’t have a blender or a food processor. I’m sure there are people out there that can make a perfectly smooth hummus without modern technology, but I am not one of them.
So as I work towards mastering Lebanese cuisine, it seems fitting that I would start with a simple hummus. This time, though, I used a blender. I’m happy to report that although there was room for improvement, it worked. My husband, remembering the chunky, hand-whipped hummus of the past, looked on dubiously as I prepared the hummus, but by the time he saw the finished product, sprinkled with paprika and with a drizzle of olive oil, and tasted the first bite, he was asking me to make hummus for an event he’s hosting next week.
Simple, delicious hummus recipe:
1 cup dried garbanzo beans
2 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons of tahini paste
4 tablespoons of olive oil
Soak the garbanzo beans for at least four hours, preferably longer. Discard any beans that float to the top. After the soak, discard the water, pour the beans into a pot, fill the pot with enough water to cover them, and simmer for an hour or until they are soft (test by popping one in your mouth!).
When the beans are ready and soft, put the garlic, tahini and olive oil in a blender or food processor. Add the cooked garbanzo beans, as well as about two tablespoons of the cooking water.
Whip it all together. If it seems too thick, add in some of the garbanzo beans’ cooking water or some olive oil.
Add the salt, paprika and cumin to taste.
Yes, it’s that simply. Why didn’t I do this before?
Serve in a bowl, sprinkle with more paprika and drizzle with olive oil.
What you eat the hummus with is your business – we didn’t have any pita bread (perhaps that will be something to make for next time?) and we ate our hummus with a tortilla.