In Middle Eastern Cooking mixed mezze (little dishes of mixed d’oeuvre) are signs of hospitality and conviviality, dishes to be shared to begin the meal or like Spanish tapas, nibbles to be eaten while drinking and gossiping. The word mezze originally comes from the Persian word Maza, meaning ‘taste, relish‘.
Many of these delicious dishes have been adopted by the West and none more so than hummus, a simple paste of cooked chick peas crushed with tahini, lemon juice and garlic. Unfortunately like so many things Hummus has been hijacked by supermarkets who. with a few exceptions, sell us little plastic tubs of unctuous, over creamy distant relatives of the real thing.
The good news is we can reclaim Hummus and make it ourselves and never buy those little tubs again.
Apart from its glorious role in a mixed mezze, hummus is a good accompaniment to Grilled or roast Lamb, makes a delicious sandwich with a Little peppery rocket, or a tasty blob on top of a baked potato.
serves 6 – 8
300g chickpeas soaked overnight, juice of 2 large lemons, 200g tahini, 3 cloves garlic peeled and crushed, salt, olive oil, paprika, mint leaves to decorate,
Having soaked the chickpeas overnight they will have doubled in volume. Drain and rinse them. put them in a large pan and cover them with plenty of cold water – do not salt the water. Bring the pan to a fast boil and then lower the heat to a lively simmer and cook the chickpeas for 1 – 2 hours or until they are very tender. Once cooked drain them but retain some of the cooking liquid for later.
Put the chicks peas in a food processor or large bowl if you are using a hand blender with half the lemon juice and 3tbs of cooking liquid and blend to a coarse paste. Now you need to taste and then gradually add the tahini, rest of the lemon, garlic and salt and more cooking liquid if necessary little by little, adding, blending, adding etc………… until you find a balance, flavour and creamy texture you are happy with.
Spoon the Hummus in to a shallow bowl. In a small bowl mix 3 tbs of Greek olive oil with a good pinch of paprika and then dribble it over the hummus,
For me when it is still warm hummus is at its most delicious but it keeps well in the fridge for several days, but get it out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature before you eat it