Cultured Green Hummus
A good hummus is one of my favourite things to have in the world. My grandmother’s best friend was Lebanese and I would usually be dragged to her house for entire afternoons at the weekends. The ladies would play cards and a big buffet of mezze was laid out to keep us kids entertained. Or until they had finally finely trained us in the art of playing canasta and tranca. This is comfort food of the highest sort for me.
I will always kick myself for never getting Mrs Scaff’s hummus and tabulleh recipes. Alas, it would be many years later before an Israeli friend shared the secrets of a good chickpea dip with me: good tahini and a half-decent food processor.
I tend to prefer tahini from Middle Eastern shops. I find that the ones you find in health stores are bit too bitter – but if that is the only kind you have, just go ahead. Start by adding half the amount in the recipe and gradually add more, tasting it while you do, until you reach the desired consistency and taste. Of course, this is made easier if you are using a food processor or a high-speed blender. Therein lies the other tip for a good hummus, you have to blend well for a few minutes to create the airy light creamy mix that makes it such a winning dip.
I could not help myself but add a fermented element to it. Using a fermented brine also makes the hummus cultured, adding all the probiotic health benefits to boot. And it also brings great flavour to it too!
Last but not least, if you have the opportunity, it is worth using the cooked chickpeas in glass jars. They tend to be softer. If not, canned are good enough and if (and ONLY if) you have time, cook them for another five minutes to make them a little bit more tender. Heads up though: you will need to let them cool to room temperature if you are adding the brine to make it a cultured hummus. Anything over 40C will kill your good bacteria.
Add all the ingredients to your food processor, apart from the cold water. Incorporate the water as the ingredients start to blend. After a couple of minutes try for taste. If it is still dry, add a bit more water and brine. Process for another couple of minutes.
To serve, I usually add some fried chickpeas and a dusting of za’atar and olive oil. This dish is best eaten fresh, with crudites or flat bread, but it will keep in the fridge for a week.