What does a hummus recipe have in common with high school exams? When exam fever hits my 16-year old and he’s buried in his books all day, I need to stock up on healthy snacks that he can attack at any time morning, noon or night when he takes his refuelling breaks. And I’ve found that a couple or more bowls of different hummus in the fridge goes a long way paired with whole wheat toast, rotis, crackers and even raw veggies like carrots and cucumbers. Whipped up with 5 ingredients or less, these hummus recipes are painless, quick and easy.
Purists may balk at the fact that the all important tahini is missing in my hummus recipes but to be honest its absence is more than made up for other big, bold flavours. I left it out because tahini is not a store cupboard staple for most people and when you have to make hummus in a pinch, it is more than okay to skip it. And sometimes buying a jar of thing just to make a small batch of hummus seems excessive. That said, feel free to add think to these recipes if you like.
The wonderful thing about a hummus recipe, any hummus recipe is that it is flexible and open to innovation. There are endless possibilities to what you can do with a bowl of hummus. In my home, apart from being served at dinner parties, it’s something that often shows up at breakfast – spread in a sandwich, smeared in a quesadilla and believe it or not…dolloped as a thick base for a glorious fried egg, a protein-rich and healthy yet decadent breakfast. Try it.
Back to the hummus recipes in this post. The first is a simple, green hummus redolent with fistfuls of fresh basil, a couple of sharp cloves of garlic and lemon juice. A favourite in my kitchen, basil is delicate and must be treated with care. Basil discolours once chopped but a generous squirt of lemon juice in the hummus stops this. Still, like guacamole, I suggest you make basil hummus in small batches that will stay fresh and green for no more than a couple of days in the fridge. A thin layer of olive oil on top of the hummus prevents contact with air and is useful when you have to store basil hummus.
Roasted Bell Peppers
Smoky and sweet with a hint of heat, my second hummus recipe stars roasted red bell peppers with a couple of fresh chillies. Chickpeas, squishy-soft, roasted peppers, garlic, olive oil and barely a splash of balsamic blend smoothly into an enticing red but still creamy hummus. The red peppers can be roasted in the oven or charred on the open flame. The papery, burnt skin can be peeled easily and the filament and seeds discarded. You can treat the fresh chillies the same way. I could eat this one with almost anything…think fried chicken, vegetable tempura or even a humble samosa. Slightly more complex in flavour, this red hummus is perfect for cosy dinners with friends and cocktail parties. Make a big batch because it keeps well for upto a week in the refrigerator.
Garlic And Cheese
Calling all garlic lovers for the next hummus recipe. It may sound absurd or downright crazy, but I added as many as 30 cloves of garlic to this hummus. And no, I did not suffer from garlic breath. Poached low and slow in a bath of olive oil in a saucepan, the garlic mellows to a sweet, lightly golden crescents that yield at the slightest pressure. You could also roast 2-3 heads of garlic doused with olive oil, wrapped in foil in the oven at 180°C for 20 minutes. Oven-roasted garlic will probably be darker but equally sweet and delicious. The transformation from strong and sometimes acrid to soft and savoury is amazing. The garlic in this hummus recipe is more like an echo rather than a scream. A small amount of mild cheddar makes the hummus creamy and somehow reiterates its salty, finger-licking quality. Great with something crisp to eat and chilled beers on a hot day.
My hummus was made with dried chickpeas soaked for 4-5 hours and cooked in a pressure cooker. I cook a substantial batch of chickpeas and use as and when I need in salads, soups, stews and hummus. I don’t remove their skins; some people do to get a creamy texture without too much blitzing. I just don’t see the need to. Canned chickpeas aren’t common in India, so we are used to boiling them up with minimum fuss. When short of time, a good trick is to soak the dried chickpeas in hot water for a couple of hours. They plump up nicely, no problem. Sometimes adding a pinch of soda bicarbonate to the cooking water helps cook them faster. I hope you try these recipes and maybe make up your own variations and share them with me.
- 150 g chickpeas cooked till soft and squishy
- 50 g fresh basil
- 3 big garlic cloves
- 45 ml lemon juice
- 40 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 30 ml water or some of the liquid from cooking the chickpeas
- 200 g chickpeas cooked till soft and squishy
- 2 red bell peppers
- 1-2 fresh red chillies (optional)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 45 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 20 ml balsamic vinegar
- 150 g chickpeas cooked till soft and squishy
- 15-20 medium garlic cloves
- 30 g cheddar cheese, grated
- 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ tsp cumin powder
- Whizz everything together (reserving 15 ml of the extra virgin olive oil) in a food processor adding some or all the water as you go along. You should have a creamy, smooth paste.
- Correct the seasoning, dollop the hummus on a plate or shallow bowl, drizzle with the reserved EVOO and serve.
- Rub the bell peppers and chillies with a few drops of oil and roast over an open flame on the stove, turning every few seconds to make sure that their skin is charred on all sides. Alternatively, halve the bell peppers, rub the outsides with oil, place on a lightly greased baking sheet, the cut side facing downwards and roast at 180℃ for 20 minutes till well charred. Do not cut the chillies for roasting in the oven.
- Cool the charred peppers and chillies, peel and chop into small pieces.
- Blitz all the ingredients (reserving 15 ml of the extra virgin olive oil) in a food processor till you get a creamy red mixture. Drizzle with reserved EVOO and serve.
- Place the garlic in a small saucepan and pour the EVOO to just cover them. Place on the lowest flame on the stove and poach for 7-10 minutes till the garlic is lightly golden and soft.
- Cool the garlic in the oil and then pop it into the food processor (reserving some oil for drizzling) with all the other ingredients and blend till creamy. Drizzle with the remaining oil and serve.