Introduction: Low Fat Hummus
Most commercially made hummus (or hummous) contains a lot of oil and is high calorie as a result. You can make it fresh with only a small amount of oil for a much healthier dish, and it costs very little because dried pulses are a cheap source of protein. The inclusion of raw, finely chopped garlic boosts the health benefits. Make it runny as a dip or thicker to use as a spread.
The instructions assume you have a food processor. If you do, this is a very quick recipe. Once your boiled chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) have cooled, the hummus will be ready to eat in 10 minutes.
8oz (225g) dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) - the exact weight isn't vital
a dessert spoonful of tahini (sesame seed paste)
2-4 cloves of garlic, depending on taste
Step 1: Soak the Chickpeas
You need to use dried chickpeas for this recipe to produce a jelly (US: jello) that will hold the hummus together without the need for lots of calorie-laden tahini. The chickpeas will be soaked overnight, or for at least 8 hours. Tip them into a bowl then pick out and discard any discoloured ones, there are always one or two. Cover them with plenty of cold water - the water level needs to be an inch or more above the chickpeas to allow for expansion as they soak.
Put the bowl in a cool place. You can cover it with a plate or a lid if you're worried about dirt getting in. You don't need to put the chickpeas into the fridge while they are soaking, but if your kitchen is warm then it would be a good idea to do so.
After the soaking period, pour off the water and rinse the chickpeas in a colander or a sieve under the cold tap. They should have plumped up but still be hard. Have another look for any discoloured ones that need to be removed.
Step 2: Boil the Chickpeas
Tip the chickpeas into a small saucepan and cover them with cold water. Add only enough to cover them, plus about half an inch more. Put on a lid and bring the pan to the boil. Some scum may rise to the surface, just remove it with a spoon. Then turn down the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. Check on the chickpeas once or twice to remove any more scum and make sure the water is still covering them, but don't add more water unless you really need to. They should end up reasonably soft without being mushy.
Pour off the liquid into a jug and put it to one side to cool. It will look pale brown in colour. Leave the pan of chickpeas (with the lid off) somewhere cool too. When both the liquid and the chickpeas are cool enough, put them in the fridge and do something else for a couple of hours while they chill.
Step 3: Make the Hummus
The liquid that the chickpeas were boiled in should have gone jelly-like as it cooled. It won't be a firm jelly, but it will be spoonable and somewhere between a solid and a liquid. If it seems too runny, you probably put too much water in the pan with the chickpeas, but it doesn't matter, runny hummus is fine.
Peel the garlic cloves and toss them into the food processor running at high speed to chop them finely. Then add the chickpeas and run the motor at a medium speed until they are nicely chopped up. Wash your lemon and grate off the zest into the bowl of the food processor, then squeeze the lemon and add the juice. (Popping it into the microwave on high for 30 seconds before cutting it in half will increase the juice yield.) You can add the pulp too for more lemony flavour if you wish, but make sure no pips fall in.
Stir the tahini in its jar to mix in the oil, then add a dessert spoonful to the food processor bowl and blitz it. The hummus will be very stiff and dry at this point. With the motor running, spoon in the jelly liquid from the chickpeas a little at a time until you get the consistency you want - it's unlikely you'll need to use all of it. You may need to stop the motor a couple of times to scrape the mixture off the sizes of the bowl.
Step 4: Enjoy
Transfer the hummus to a lidded container. It will keep in the fridge for several days - I've eaten it up to 10 days later without any harm coming to me, but that is perhaps a bit too long to keep it. It tastes best when it is very fresh.
Runny hummus can be eaten as a dip with raw vegetable batons cut from cucumber, carrot, red peppers or anything else you fancy. A stiffer version is nice spread on toast and bagels, in sandwiches or used as a filling for baked potatoes - liven it up with sliced gherkins (aka cornichons), chopped lettuce or a sprinkle of paprika.
Try using other pulses or beans instead of chickpeas. This recipe works well with haricot beans and yellow peas.