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How to Make Hummus from Scratch


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Hummus is the Arabic word for chickpea. (In Spanish, it’s garbanzo.) But it’s not just a bean! It’s a dish, and practically an entire culture. As a dish, it’s a chickpea and tahini concoction mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic (and often cumin and paprika and other seasonings). As a culture, it’s claimed all over the Mediterranean and Middle East, but it truly belongs to the world. It’s used as a dip for veggies and crackers, in sauces on meat and fish, and plays a role in many other recipes.

Because of the strong vegetarian traditions in some Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries, it’s become a standby in vegetarian and vegan cooking here. But it’s not just for vegetarians and vegans! Often, American meat-eaters tend to look askance at it as some pasty-looking, unfamiliar bean thing and not want to have anything to do with it, but it’s actually quite tasty–and as tasty as you want it to be if you make it yourself! Spice it up all you like. It’s the chickpea cousin to the uber-popular pinto bean dip, and can be just as flavorful. Chickpeas have a deliciously natural nutty taste, and even if you’re not a vegetarian or vegan, it’s a great change-of-pace chip dip.

Weston’s vegan girlfriend loves hummus, so as part of my growing repertoire for her, I decided to try it out, and it’s now a favorite here. And no surprise–after all, I love pinto bean dip! It hadn’t occurred to me before that hummus was just the same–only different. In some ways, better, because I love that natural nutty flavor, enhanced further by the sesame tahini.

I couldn’t find sesame tahini in the grocery stores in our small town, so I started out by learning to make my own.

How to make Homemade Sesame Tahini:

1 cup sesame seeds, hulled or unhulled
1/4 cup olive oil

Spread sesame seeds on an ungreased cookie sheet and toast at 350-degrees for 5 minutes. (Don’t burn.) Let cool briefly then place in a small food processor. Add olive oil a little at a time and process till smooth (or as smooth as you can get it). Turn it off every little bit and keep pushing the mixture down in the processor with a knife then blend again. You can double or triple the recipe–sesame tahini keeps well in the refrigerator for weeks. Use in dressings, sauces, hummus, falafel, etc!

Now it’s time for the hummus! Chickpeas are cheap and it’s easy to cook your own, or just pick up a few cans at the grocery store. By the way, if you cook your own chickpeas, you will see them shed their “skins” when they cook. That’s okay. It’s not necessary to remove the skins! All beans shed skins to some extent as they cook. Chickpeas do this more than other beans, but there’s nothing wrong with it.

Leave ’em alone!

To cook your own chickpeas, you can do the overnight long soak if you want, but I just do the short one-hour boil and soak then drain and rinse, cover with water, and cook a couple of hours until tender–or cook them quickly (about 7 minutes) in a pressure cooker! You can also home-can chickpeas in a pressure canner.

Chickpeas are a great source of vegetable protein. Cook a big batch and plan ahead–they freeze well in a little bit of the cooking liquid. I’ve been freezing them in 3-cup batches so I can make hummus on a dime anytime Weston’s girlfriend comes over. And sometimes just for me.

How to make Hummus:

2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or home-cooked chickpeas
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons sesame tahini
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup water, more or less for desired thickness
pinch ground cumin or coriander
salt and pepper to taste

Place half the chickpeas and half the oil in a food processor or a blender.

Pulse several times, stopping to stir and push mixture back down. When it’s starting to get creamy, add the rest of the chickpeas and olive oil. Blend till smooth. Add remaining ingredients, except for salt, pepper, and paprika, and blend. When it’s all creamy-smooth, add the salt and pepper to taste and blend again. To serve, sprinkle with paprika and add a drizzle of olive oil.

Variations: After blending, fold in 2-3 tablespoons fresh herbs (or 2-3 teaspoons dried herbs), 1/2 to 1 cup caramelized onions or roasted peppers, 1/4 cup chopped olives, or 1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach. If you don’t like the taste of tahini, you can even leave it out. Or try black bean hummus–use black beans instead of chick peas! The world is your hummus!

Get the handy print pages and save these to your recipe box here:
Homemade Sesame Tahini

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Posted by on April 10, 2011 | Permalink  

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16 comments | RSS feed for comments of this post

  1. 4-10

    Suzanne–Great recipes and thanx for including the tahini recipe. I have the sesame seeds, so now I can make my own! I hate going to the store to find one somewhat exotic ingredient. I’m thinking this would be great pressure canned in pint jars…I already can garbanzos in 1/2 pint jars to add to salads, etc. I got tired of buying 15 oz cans and having half go bad before we used them all up. Thanx again!

  2. 4-10

    No grocery stores in this area has tahini, either. I had no idea it was so easy to make! My hummus tasted wonderful without it, but I bet it would have been that final kick.

  3. 4-10

    I love hummus! This will be great to try. One question… since tahini turns out to be just sesame seed and olive oil, do you have to makke it in advance? Why not just add2 and a half tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds and an extra half tablespoon of oil as you are blending the chickpeas?

    • 4-10

      Julia, you could try that, but the sesame seeds are so small, I wonder if they would blend up as finely if you were blending them together with the chickpeas. I don’t know. Let me know if you try that!

  4. 4-10

    I keep tahini on hand, but I have heard of substituting peanut butter for it. I love hummus and serve it with homemade pita chips that I drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and flax seed before toasting. A very healthy snack!

  5. 4-10

    CindyS, I wouldn’t recommend that you can hummus – it’s a dense puree and, like pureed pumpkin, heat penetration would be impaired in the canning process. You’re better off canning the chickpeas to have on hand to make hummus when you wish.


  6. 4-10

    I love hummus!! Thank you for posting a good recipe for it! I have made it before and had forgotten how easy it is. The little tubs of this golden wonder cost between $3.69 and $4.00 where I live so it is MUCH cheaper to make your own!

  7. 4-10

    This post makes me think I should try pinto bean dip. Any recipes on how to make that, cause I’ve never seen it in the grocery stores here.

  8. 4-10

    Good fresh hummus makes a great alternative to mayo on a sandwich. And should you use only half a jar/can of chickpeas (also labeled ceci in Italian stores) in hummus. on a salad…or whatever, there’s always ‘oven-fried’ chickpeas for the orphans. Spread chickpeas in one layer on baking sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt. Spice if desired. Pop in oven until crunchy.

  9. 4-10

    Dede–You’re right! Went temporarily brain dead. ūüėČ I know about not canning dense purees such as pumpkin. Thanx for the reminder. Luckily, I don’t always act immediately on these impulses ;-)…

  10. 4-10

    Bonita–I’ll have to try that!

  11. 4-10

    LOL Cindy, I TOTALLY understand! BTDT. Often ūüėČ

  12. 4-10

    Bonita, great minds: I just posted a recipe for roasted garbanzos.
    But they should come with a warning: I find them addictive. Once I start eating them, I want to keep going until they’re gone.

    For hummus, if you can’t find tahini, adding a little sesame oil gives much the same flavor. Around here, sesame oil is easier to find at the supermarket.

  13. 4-10

    I just bought a bag of chick peas to try and make my own hummus. Now I know how!

  14. 4-15

    I heart hummus so much! I don’t like the taste or cost of tahini so I often leave it out. I have switched to lime juice instead of lemon in a pinch and it was awesome! Add a little fresh cilantro, you’ve got cilantro lime hummus which goes great on tacos instead of sour cream or cheese for the vegans(or whom ever!)

    I did have one foodie friend tell me to drop my fresh garlic cloves in vinegar for 30 seconds to a minute as there can be bacteria that live under the skin of garlic. I’ve tried it and the garlic still tastes great.

    Happy hummusing!


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