The hummus concept

The hummus concept

Deconstructing the world's most popular dip


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Do you like hummus? I certainly do! 

And from what I gather, most people (and even kids!) like it too.

Originally of Middle Eastern roots, hummus (or houmous as an alternative spelling) has, in fact, become so popular that it is now widely available ready-made in almost every supermarket, corner store or gas station. 

And of course, you can use a shop bought pot of the stuff with any of the below ideas. 

But it so happens, that hummus is also really easy and quick to make, especially if you have a blender type whizz thing in your kitchen (like 5 mins flat if you use a can of chickpeas). And it keeps well in the fridge for several days too.

It also so happens that it can serve as a wonderful 'canvas' to test drive your culinary creativity. An ideal base to try out the effect of different ingredients and seasonings: by the batch, or even by the spoonful, if you wanted to give yourself a properly nerdy lesson. Last but not least, you can practice thinking 'outside the box' and experiment with different uses.

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So let's explore hummus as a concept:

Hummus is basically a puree of chickpeas (from a can or pre-cooked), tahini (sesame paste), plus olive oil and seasonings: often garlic, lemon juice and spices (cumin, paprika and/or chilli for example); herbs go nicely too (try parsley, mint or dill).

Extra tips: 

  • If your hummus isn't creamy enough or seems too 'dry' add extra oil and a bit more water (even better: chickpea water) and blend a bit longer.
  • If you don't have a blender or food processor, you can mash the tinned/cooked pulses with a fork or potato masher. It will be a bit more rustic in texture, but just as delicious.

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Now, let's distill the 'concept' of hummus, and look for variations on that creamy/nutty theme:

  • A puree made of beans or lentils (the photo above is a borlotti bean 'hummus' I made the other day)
  • A nut puree (e.g. almond, walnut or cashew)
  • A veggie puree (e.g. cooked beetroot, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower etc) - with or without added chickpeas and/or tahini
  • Substitute tahini for other nut butters
  • Leave out the tahini and simply add extra olive oil (or sesame or walnut oil, if you like the flavour)

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And while most of us think of hummus as a dip (for anything from crackers and celery sticks to fish fingers), there are a few more ways to use hummus (of any variation):

  • As creamy sauce (for pasta, steamed or grilled veggies, fish or meat)
  • As a base for a topping (think inversion the sauce concept): eg. a spicy ratatouille, or quickly fried mince, sausage or chorizo on a bed of hummus.
  • As a spread to eat with toast or in sandwiches
  • If you steer the ingredients towards sweet, hey presto, you have dessert: chocolate & honey hummus, for example.
  • To make soups and stews thicker and creamier. (OK, I probably wouldn't make hummus specifically for this use, but it's a good way to use up any leftovers!)

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No, I haven't just made up any of this: just do a search for any of these variations, and lots of 'hummus' recipes will come up (yes, even chocolate hummus is a thing!)

To come up with your own favourite combinations think of contrast and complement:

  • What would make a nice contrast to the creamy sauce? In my head that would be spicy and/or crispy (as in ideas above).
  • Conversely, what would be nicely complementary to the creaminess? Perhaps steamed or grilled veggies, or a pile of pasta?

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You can do a recipe search for inspiration, or just have a look in your fridge and cupboards and go for a brainstorm. I'd love to know what ideas you come up with!


Categories: COOK, EXPLORE

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