Saturday, August 21, 2004

How to Make Hummus

Hamas comes out of the Middle East, but so does hummus. Count your blessings, accentuate the positive, and live in the moment. The essential ingredients in hummus are two: garbanzo beans, also known as chick peas, and sesame tahini. The former can be found in any supermarket; but for the latter you may have to visit a frou-frou joint like Trader Joe's.

I begin by throwing a couple or three cloves of fresh garlic into the bottom of my blender. One can also add a small piece of a lemon, skin and all, and/or a bit of a jalapeno or habanero pepper. Habanero is the hotter of the two, and jalapeno (Ha-la-PAIN-yo) is seriously hot. Now dump in a 16 oz can of garbanzo beans. But first drain off some of the liquid: what you are making is a dip, not a soup. Don't ask me how much to drain off; here as elsewhere the true culinary master nevers measures, he eyeballs, using to good effect his experientially-honed common sense.

Now add a righteous gob of sesame tahini. Again, don't ask me how much, but two heaping tablespoonfuls is in the ballpark. On top of this about a half lemon's worth of lemon juice, no more. Now put the top on the blender and fire it up at a high setting. I like my hummus smooth as a baby's ass and about the same color and consistency of what comes out of one. It may be necessary to add water, a little at a time, to achieve a thorough blend.

Pour/scoop the hummus out into a shallow bowl. Make a circular depression in the hummus and fill it with extra virgin olive oil. Now what you have is a lake of greenish olive oil atop the 'moraine' of hummus. To set it off aesthetically, sprinkle some cayenne pepper over the top. Chili powder or any red pepper will also do. A bit of finely chopped cilantro added around the edges will also contribute to the aesthetic appeal.

Hummus goes well with hot pita bread. One way to quickly heat the bread is by 'nuking' (i.e., microwaving) it, but I prefer to cut the pita bread in half and toast it. Add a salad and you have a meal. Left-over hummus can be made into sandwiches the next day.