I had my first taste of hummus when I lived in England. Sainsbury’s brand, usually, or Safeway’s or a tub from the little supermarket down the street, and they all tasted pretty much the same, that is, *delicious*. We would buy a tub of hummus and a tub of taramasalata pretty much once a week, and eat them on toast or raw veggies or rice cakes whatever was handy. The only time I was ever disappointed with my hummus was this one time when I was at a vegetarian restaurant. This was back in a time in England when any trip to a cafe or restaurant was a very risky proposal. There was seemingly only about a 30% chance that the people running the restaurant would have the slightest idea about what constituted an acceptable meal, and outside London, the odds went down further. This was a cafe in some little country town like Bicester or Tunbridge Wells, so I should have known better. I ordered some sort of veggies and hummus plate and as soon as I took a bite, my heart sank. Canned hummus. Hummus, out of a can. I know. It doesn’t bear thinking.
So after 13 delirious, hummus-and-tarama filled years in the UK, I moved back to the US and I was pleased to see that in my absence, hummus had been discovered by the Americans and was readily available in all the major supermarkets and minor local delis. My pleasure was short lived, however, after I bought a tub of Sheik or Two Tribes or somesuch crap from the local Shop-Rite, and I was instantly transported back that cafe in Tunbridge Wells and a little part of me died all over again. I tried a couple more brands, and Sabra comes out tops, but nothing like the real thing. So at some point you just have to admit defeat, buy yourself a jar of tahini and get the food processor out.
(I am still waiting for Americans to discover taramasalata, which I do not know how to make. Just as well, though, because it is pretty much just fish flavored mayonnaise with all the calories that entails.)
Your basic homemade hummus is pretty easy. You get some chickpeas, canned or dried, soaked and boiled. Let’s say a can, drained and rinsed. Throw them in the food processor. Add a tablespoon or two of tahini, a clove of garlic, a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, the juice of a lemon and a 1/4 – 1/2 tsp of salt and you whiz it up and bob’s your uncle. You taste it and see if it need more of anything, add whatever it is, whiz, whiz, whiz, done. If you are feeling adventurous, you can throw in a roasted pepper, or some olives, or a chili or some fresh herbs (cilantro!).
So anywho, my favorite additive at the moment (for pretty much anything) is the Chipotle in Adobo. I find that pretty much nothing on earth isn’t improved with a little chipotle. Apparently I am not the only one who thinks this because they are putting it in everything these days. I believe Kellogg’s recently came out with Chipotle-Lime Corn Flakes, or they will soon anyway. I’m eating a Yoplait Chipotle Mango Creme Pie yogurt right now.
Where was I? Anyway, chipotle in the hummus may not be particularly authentic but I think Latin American/Middle Eastern fusion is going to be the next big thing.
Smoky Chipotle Hummus
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1-2 tbsp tahini
1 chipotle pepper in adobo
1-2 tbsp olive oil
The juice of 1 lemon
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
black pepper, smoked paprika
Throw first six ingredients in a food processor and whiz (that is the technical term) until smooth. Add more olive oil if it is not runny enough. Turn out into an appropriately sized receptacle. Sprinkle with smoked paprika and a grind of black pepper.
Great as a dip or a sandwich spread or with a salad or just eaten in big heaping spoonfuls out of the bowl in front of the TV. Better for you than ice cream, that’s for sure.