Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hummus w/ Garam Masala spice mix, Fresh

Hummus is great for experimenting with different flavors. As a base its fairly mild with a nice smooth texture and so adding spices, herbs, or other aromatics can make it taste of almost anything while still maintaining the nice background of lemon, garlic, and rich tahini. Whether you like to dip it, plate it, or lick it off your favorite Mediterranean-tanned abdomen, hummus is a great and versatile dish. The Mediterranean, however, is a big place. And for every abdomen you find there, there is probably a different recipe. For instance, some don't soak their beans. I do. Others don't peel the little creepy skins. I do. Some use canned beans. I definitely do not (the virtues of dried over canned beans cannot be overstated for this recipe). Some use only olive oil or only water in their hummus. I prefer a mix of both. I prefer a spicy, lemony hummus, others like theirs to be a bit milder. Conclusion: it takes a village.

When I make hummus, I almost never measure anything. Today, dear readers, I tried to measure more carefully in order to create some kind of base recipe. While it worked a bit at the beginning, by the end I had forgotten and was just kind of tossing in salt and spice willy-nilly. And so, for the most part, the measurements are an approximation. Feel free to experiment on your own with my recipe!

1.5 c dried garbanzo beans (chick peas)
1.5-2 c water, reserved from boiling garbanzos
6 cloves of garlic, minced
3-4 lemons, juiced
1/3 c tahini
1/4 c olive oil
2 tsp garam masala spice mix
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
salt, lots of it, to taste

  1. Soak the beans overnight in a large container with lots of room and lots of water. The beans will expand about 2.5 times Note: Some say that this step may be omitted traded for a longer cooking time, but in the interest of saving energy and time the next day, an overnight soak isn't too much to ask. Anyways, it makes my kitchen feel more authentic when there are things soaking on the counter.
  2. When the beans have soaked for a long time, drain and rinse, and bring them to boil in a large pot of well-salted water. When the water begins to boil, cover and bring the flame down to low. Simmer for about 1.5 hours, or until the beans are easily squished under-finger. If foam creeps you out, you may remove it as it will form on top of the water. I do I  know exactly what the foam is all about, but I generally ignore it and have so far suffered no consequences.
  3. While beans are cooking, you can prep the other ingredients, or check you email, or do whatever you like. I ate breakfast. When yours beans are done, drain them and remove the seed coats. Remember to reserve the cooking liquid as it will impart great flavor to your end result. Note: although technically removing the seed coats is optional, the end result will be much smoother and, as an added bonus, will not make you fart. This is a very tedious process, however, so I recommend listening to a Fresh Air podcast while you do it. There is nothing like Terry Gross' prodding questions to get you in the mood to peel.
  4. Pour tahini, lemon juice, and garlic into the bowl of a food processor (preferred over blender) and run that blade. pour in cooked, peeled garbanzos, alternating with reserved water and olive oil to make the mixture as liquidy as you prefer. You may not use all of the water or olive oil. Note: I love tahini and so I put a lot in when I make hummus, probably more than what I wrote above. For people that profess not to like it, I would say that you haven't tried a good brand. Although tahini is very simple ingredient, composed of ground sesame seeds, for this recipe it is important to find tahini made from hulled seeds as opposed to unhulled seeds. Unhulled tahini can be very bitter while the hulled version has none of the bitterness, just the delicious roasted flavor of the sesame seeds. Unfortunately, most tahini brands do not say on the container whether or not the seeds are hulled. I like to use a brand called Joyva. It is by far the best tahini that I have tasted and comes in a cool-looking container. Check it out.
  5. Finally, add your spices and salt. In order to get the flavor exactly where you want it, it's a good idea to add these and let the hummus sit in the fridge for a while so the flavors can concentrate and combine. I added mine and then let it sit for about 30 minutes after which the flavors were much more intense. It would be truly tragic to oversalt your hummus because there isn't much you can do to it beyond adding more beans!
  6. Pour on a plate, swirl with olive oil, and sprinkle with cumin. Serve with bread, toasted pita, and/or abdomen. 
Sorry for all of the asides. I can't seem to get through a post these days without a million parenthetical statements. O well. Hope you enjoy!

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