Thanks to reader Michael G. for the following email:
Stephanie, I make my own hummus but I can't get it as creamy as others. I add a good amount of olive oil & lemon juice, but I want it creamier. Thanks, Michael
Have you had the same problem - homemade hummus that seems more like chickpea sludge than a really good, buttery hummus? I certainly have, and since I despise store-bought hummus (I find the stale garlic taste and smell offensive, no matter the brand...), I tend to just eat it in Middle Eastern restaurants (where it can be divine...) and really savor it.
But Michael's question got me thinking, and doing a little research, and thanks to Google and a million food blogs (seriously, it's a miracle anyone reads this blog given the competition - thanks for being here!), I pieced together the secret to authentic, home-made hummus...
It's the tahini! Not just adding tahini, because you've probably done that and still ended up with sludge. The trick is emulsifying the tahini with liquid (lemon juice and water), creating a whipped, fluffy, buttery-textured base into which you then puree the chickpeas and seasonings. (Think homemade mayonnaise or aioli.)
The result? Smooth, creamy hummus.
Toasted cumin and minced preserved lemon add lovely flavor. (If you've not yet discovered the addictive deliciousness of preserved whole lemons, buy a jar immediately; they're fantastic on everything.) Good olive oil is a must-have, since the olive oil flavor really comes through. Plus, it looks pretty drizzled on top, with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. Hummus tastes best at room temperature, particularly slathered on a small mountain of warm, grilled flatbread.
Creamy, Fluffy Hummus
Makes about 2 cups
1/4 c. tahini
juice of one lemon, about 1/4 c.
1/4 c. water or more
1/2 of a whole preserved lemon, seeds discarded (I find jars of whole preserved lemons at Whole Foods), minced (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 14-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed well and drained
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. ground chipotle chili powder (optional, if you like spiciness; if not, skip it)
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Add tahini, lemon juice, and water to the bowl of a blender. Blend on high until the tahini becomes very fluffy and pale colored. Add the minced preserved lemon and garlic and blend until pureed. Add some of the the olive oil and chickpeas, a little bit at a time of each, blending until completely pureed before adding more. Add a little bit more water at any point if hummus seems too thick. You want it to be creamy and the consistency of mayonnaise.
Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add cumin and toast for a minute or two, just until fragrant and toasty smelling. Do not burn it. Remove from heat and immediately scrape it into the hummus. Add smoked paprika and chili powder (if using). Blend to incorporate. Taste and adjust seasonings and salt (you'll need less salt if you used the preserved lemon). Grind in some pepper. Blend again.
Scrape hummus into a serving bowl. Drizzle with additional olive oil and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. (Can be made ahead; cover and chill, bring to room temperature before serving.)