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Hummus Advice

Jim Leff Mar 10, 2010 02:00 PM

My go-to source for hummus has dried up, so I'm finally facing the reality that I've got to make the stuff myself. And, searching through the archives, I'm absolutely drowning in humus recipes. So, in typical counterintuitive chowhound style, I'm addressing that by inviting a fresh deluge.

Particulars: I like Turkish hummus, light on the tahini, fairly course in the chickpea texture, not real pasty in the consistency. I like how the Turks get just a bare hint of sweetness, though I'm not sure how that's achieved.

I own a food mill but not a food processor or blender.

I'd resist the idea of cooking chickpeas fresh (i.e. not using canned) unless there were a way to do so in serious bulk, somehow freezing most of it (I know you can't really freeze hummus itself, but can you get away with freezing the chickpeas?).

Thanks for any advice!

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  1. goodhealthgourmet RE: Jim Leff Mar 10, 2010 02:21 PM

    - the coarse texture is easy - skip the food mill and just mash with a fork.
    - you can absolutely use canned chickpeas, but if you decide to go to the trouble of cooking them fresh, you can freeze them.
    - as far as the sweetness, it's likely from high-quality raw tahini...so you might have to rethink your stance on the "light on the tahini" request ;)

    4 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
      ChristinaMason RE: goodhealthgourmet Mar 10, 2010 02:32 PM

      +1 on the raw tahini. that stuff is so good on falafel. mmm.

      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
        pikawicca RE: goodhealthgourmet Mar 10, 2010 05:55 PM

        The raw tahini I get from Beirut is quite bitter -- the Lebanese like it that way. If you can find Israeli tahini, it will be sweeter but I still wouldn't call it "sweet."

        1. re: pikawicca
          goodhealthgourmet RE: pikawicca Mar 10, 2010 07:13 PM

          tastes sweet to me. in fact, i notice an inherent sweetness in all raw nuts and nut butters except for walnuts and pine nuts.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
            pikawicca RE: goodhealthgourmet Mar 10, 2010 07:18 PM

            I assure you, if you tasted this tahini, you would not think it sweet.

      2. ChristinaMason RE: Jim Leff Mar 10, 2010 02:23 PM

        I add a little sauteed onion and garlic to my hummus (before processing) and throw in some pan-toasted sesame seeds. It turns out nicely, and I think the onions give it a little sweetness, but a little goes a long way.

        By the way, when I was in Turkey, my friend from outside Ankara mentioned that hummus isn't really a Turkish dish. I don't remember ever having it there, either. However, a google search turned up this tahini-free recipe, which might be worth a try: http://citypaper.net/food/dish-restau...

        1. l
          lgss RE: Jim Leff Mar 10, 2010 02:56 PM

          If you have a pressure cooker it's easy to cook up lots of chickpeas to freeze in meal-size batches.

          1. nofunlatte RE: Jim Leff Mar 10, 2010 04:33 PM

            Another person here who frequently (and successfully) freezes cooked-from-scratch chickpeas. You might want to freeze a little bit of the cooking liquid as well (I use it for pureeing, though I do use a blender and not a food mill.)

            1. Jennalynn RE: Jim Leff Mar 10, 2010 04:39 PM

              You can go easy on the tahini... and then add a tiny bit of sesame oil.. that's my trick.

              1. scubadoo97 RE: Jim Leff Mar 10, 2010 05:46 PM

                Hummus freezes well so don't hesitate to bulk up.

                1. phofiend RE: Jim Leff Mar 10, 2010 06:17 PM

                  I don't care for tahini either, so I use cashew butter instead.

                  1. s
                    sueatmo RE: Jim Leff Mar 10, 2010 07:26 PM

                    It is really easy to make hummus. I make mine differently than you like, so I won't offer my recipe. But I have found that S & W canned chickpeas are the best of the canned than I have ever had. I think they test fresher than others. On the hint of sweetness, I use regular old jarred tahini, so I don't think I get sweetness there. (Love the idea of cashew butter! Wow.) But I wonder if a touch of balsamic vinegar wouldn't give a touch of sweetness. Not authentic I admit. Have fun sussing out your favorite way of making this wonderful food.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: sueatmo
                      jen kalb RE: sueatmo Mar 11, 2010 12:19 PM

                      if you want to, it can be a good idea to drain the canned chickpeas and refresh them in boiling water (maybe with some spices, a garlic clove etc. briefly. this is what I do when shortcutting preparation of hummus and other chickpea dishes. Also, if you want to take the time, its a good idea to rub some or all of the skins off the chickpeas. You can do this by putting them in a basin of water and rubbing them together. - they float to the surface. It increases the delicacyof the dish considerably. I skip this step or do it halfheartedly if I am making hummus in a food processor but I would not omit it if using a hand masher.

                      1. re: jen kalb
                        jen kalb RE: jen kalb Mar 11, 2010 12:26 PM

                        ps - it may be that the skins could be removed with a food mill - I havent tried that method.

                        1. re: jen kalb
                          scubadoo97 RE: jen kalb Mar 11, 2010 02:06 PM

                          skins can be removed with the food mill. It works very well if that's what you want to do. Personally I've done it but can make a very smooth hummus with skins is you process well enough.

                    2. d
                      dmd_kc RE: Jim Leff Mar 10, 2010 08:36 PM

                      If you own a potato masher with the perforated disc, that makes great hummus in the texture you describe. I'm not sure I can perceive enough difference between Turkish or any other nationality's recipe, because I've always found hummus to be one of the most variable of any foods I know. I go to two places owned by Lebanese proprietors, and theirs couldn't be more different from one another's.

                      I'm not a huge tahini fan, so I always go light on it or use another nut butter, as others have suggested before. I'd guess the sweetness you detect has something to do with lemon juice and maybe some coriander.

                      And there's nothing whatsoever wrong with canned chickpeas. I think they're one of the best canned foods in the market. I use them all the time.

                      And most of all, I sincerely doubt I've ever made the exact same hummus recipe twice. It's hard to think of anything more forgiving. Experiment away -- the ingredients are certainly cheap enough, and you'd have to go really far astray to create something inedible.

                      1. Jim Leff RE: Jim Leff Mar 11, 2010 10:21 AM

                        Thanks, all

                        Good to know I can freeze cooked chickpeas. Never knew (though I remain skeptical) you can freeze hummus. Any comments as to which would suffer less in freezing? I'm guessing the former.

                        ChristinaMason, I like your touches (especially the toasted sesame seeds)...though raw garlic is more typical for hummus, as you surely know.

                        Jennalynn, I like the sesame oil trick

                        sueatmo, sweet tip re: S & W canned chickpeas. That was my next question. Hope they are available in the Northeast. Anyone have comments on Trader Joe's?

                        dmd_kc , the potato masher sounds right for consistency. But...ack...another gadget....

                        As for hummus not being Turkish, that's a complicated story I know a little (but not a lot) about. When Turks say hummus, they refer to the Arabic tahini meze. In their mind, the tahini - the alien ingredient - is what makes it hummus. Yet they do make it, sort of as "ethnic food". Complicating still further, there are sections of eastern Turkey that DO use tahini. All these food geography issues turn out to be more complex than they seem. If you order baba gounoush, you get the Lebanese meze. If you order patlican salatasi, you get a Turkish eggplant dip that's identical except for the tahini.

                        Yadda yadda....

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Jim Leff
                          sweetTooth RE: Jim Leff Mar 11, 2010 12:16 PM

                          Re: Trader Joe's canned organic chickpeas - the softness can be very variable. I've noticed that cans that have been sitting in my cupboard long, tend to yield hard (almost have to cook them again) chickpeas. Not good for hummus! We do go through a lot of chickpeas and so this only happens to a forgotten can in the back of the cupboard (for maybe 2 months at the most). It's very annoying when that happens.

                        2. jnk RE: Jim Leff Mar 11, 2010 11:06 AM

                          I've often tried to replicate the hummus that I love but to no avail. This shop is the best I've had for both hummus and baba ganough (along with many other items there). Hope it's close to you and you enjoy it.

                          Carmel Grocery
                          Forest Hills NY

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: jnk
                            Jim Leff RE: jnk Mar 11, 2010 12:53 PM

                            Thanks, jnk. Right off the LIE! Continued dependency is always the best alternative. is their baba gonoush smokey?

                            1. re: Jim Leff
                              jnk RE: Jim Leff Mar 12, 2010 03:51 AM

                              It is a bit smokey, has no may as many do, somewhat chunky....They also have Turkish salad and zakuska along with a great selection of nuts and dried fruits. Enjoy!

                          2. mcf RE: Jim Leff Mar 11, 2010 12:20 PM

                            I don't use any tahini because I don't like it that much. I take a large can of drained chick peas (save the liquid in case you want to add a little) and use a blender stick (buy one!!), 2-3 cloves of garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. Period. Add a little liquid from the can if desired.
                            I got this recipe from a Lebanese friend, who blends it (as do I) to a very creamy consistency.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: mcf
                              herring RE: mcf Mar 11, 2010 12:49 PM

                              That's pretty much what I do, though I sometimes use tahini. I also sometimes make an artichoke and roasted garlic hummus, which made me think that subbing some of the artichoke liquid instead of the oil or water (depending on how the artichokes are packed) might add some of the sweetness you're looking for, even if you don't want the actual artichokes in there.

                            2. w
                              willdupre RE: Jim Leff Mar 11, 2010 11:07 PM

                              I had hummus recently that I thought was out of this world at Taverna Opa in Orlando, very simple, Chick Peas, Garlic, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt, ground very roughly in a mortar and pestle right at the table and served directly in the mortar, with fresh pita wedges. not sure what it was, if the chick peas were really fresh or what but I have never had better, and yes it had a slight sweetness that must have come from the chick peas, couldn't stop eating it, and frankly should have just ordered more because the rest of the meal was just ok.

                              1. t
                                tmso RE: Jim Leff Mar 12, 2010 12:11 AM

                                The couple of (German-)Turkish recipe I have all use 250g dried chickpeas to 50g tahini, and all include cumin, for what it's worth. And they all call for mashing the chickpeas with a potato masher.

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