But I digress. As I've said, this post is about hummus, that other longstanding challenge to good taste. Like The Sisters, its reputation is only partially deserved and somewhat dependent on context. Just as no one ever asked for a party where nothing else was played (remember those?), similarly, no one wants to wander toward a table only to find it groaning under the weight of ten bowls of sludgy, putty-hued pea paste intermittently studded with something resembling toenail clippings and/or bunion parings. Jesus H Christ no.
As with jam, the interweb is heaving with bullshit about hummus and chickpeas in general, I presume because hippiedom is an oral culture and many of their practices are utterly dependent on the drowsy power of ignorance for their survival and enjoyment. My personal journey toward homemade hummus began in the supermarket when I picked up a pottle of my favourite kind and found myself staring at something half the size it had been the week before at the same exorbitant price. Rage took over. Morbid bibliophilia served me as never before. I became informed, and Cicer arietinum yeilded its blushing secrets to the harrowing force of my penetrating intellect. Which means it's all pretty basic and there was never any mystery to begin with.
Change the water at least once. I leave them on the sink in cool weather but if you're tropical or summery, stick them in the fridge to be safe. I don't add salt at this stage.
They will swell. That is good and necessary. I started out with less than half this volume dry.
I fill this here saucepan two-thirds with cold water. You can add salt if you wish. Bring to the boil and let it bubble away for about ten mins, then turn the temp right down to a low simmer, stirring to make sure none are sticking to the bottom. Put the lid on and let them go for at least 45mins. There aren't any shortcuts, I'm afraid. But you can go and do something else at this point since they don't tend to get into trouble on their own. Let's have a bit of Sisters while we're waiting. NB,WF? Ahhh... le temps perdu, eh?
The chickpea on the bottom right is the sort of thing you want to see after another half hour.
The pea collapses into a squishy floury paste with very little pressure; you can see the beginnings of hummus around the edges. Drain the pot and keep all the onion and garlic, some carrot and a little of the cooking stock aside. If you think you've made too much you can freeze the excess cooked peas at this point and mash them up at a later date, defrosting first. Or put them in the fridge and use them for something else- a dhal or stew.
Okay, so this is important. The chickpea directly below has been simmered for around half an hour and is not ready. Although the skin will come off when pressed with a finger, the pea itself is still firm-ish and visibly retains some of its structure. This is a stomach ache waiting to happen. Do not proceed. Simmer another 20 mins at least.
From top, clockwise:
-shitty old stock carrot
-big spoon of tahini paste
-the boiled garlic
-decent olive oil
-half a big lemon
-teaspoon of pepper
-in the middle, a big tablespoon of harissa.
(+ the unseen stock onion)
It's all about your own personal prefs, though. Classic, plain hummus is just lemon juice, garlic, salt and tahini. Juice the lemon and squeeze the garlic out of its skins; dump all the flavours you're planning to use into the drained peas. You can add a little stock to the mix if you prefer a lighter consistency. (If you're really set on toothpaste-smooth super-hummus, rub off the pea skins and discard, leaving only the fudgy pea. This is stupidly laborious and pointless unless you're deliberately trying to impress/piss someone off with your clearly superior but totally unassuming and almost godlike expertise. But I wouldn't know anything about that, obviously.)
UPDATE! FROZEN HUMMUS IS FINE- IN FACT, I SUSPECT IT'S EVEN MORE DELICIOUS AFTER THE FLAVOURS HAVE HAD A CHANCE TO INTEGRATE FOR A WHILE. FREEZE AWAY.
EDIT: and yes I was spelling hummus with one m until now because I'm a complete retard.