Houmus is a great side dish and a delicious appetizer. Chickpeas, sesame seeds, olive oil and salt is all it takes! It is very easy to make houmus, though it may take a few rounds before you twist the proportions perfectly.
My family is fond of houmus, because it has versatile use. My kids like it spread on bread, on celery sticks, with carrots or eaten alone. Since it’s rather expensive to buy in the amount that satisfies their taste, I prepare houmus from scratch.
Houmus is made from chickpeas, called also garbanzo beans. Although you can buy canned chickpeas, I prefer to cook my own beans whenever I can. The taste is certainly better, not even mentioning the health aspects. I buy beans (and other healthy ingredients such as sesame seeds or herbs) in bulk to save money and time. Now I have a big bag of dried chickpeas from wholefood sellers, so I will be making houmus for a while :).
Make houmus, because it’s tasty and easy
Beans need a good soaking time before cooking. You can even sprout them for a day first. Sprouting will increase their nutritional profile but it requires both time and patience – not what I have in spare.
Rinse your chickpeas first and soak them overnight in a large pot, 12h or more if you can. I soak them in a big glass bowl with 2-3x more water than chickpeas. Chickpeas expand to about 2.5 times their size so you need a large bowl. Cover it with a towel. Use cold water.
Chickpeas have to be very soft for houmus, so they have to be cooked for a long time. They need 4-6h of cooking in a slow-cooker or on a low heat. Cover them with a lid. Keep an eye for the water level as additional water will be needed. I also add some salt after approximately 2h of cooking.
If you don’t have that much time you can speed up the soaking process. Rinse the chickpeas first, add water and bring it to boil. Then stop and cover the chickpeas. Wait 2h and then cook the beans.
After cooking, drain the liquid and let the beans cool. You can further use the cooking liquid to your chicken/beef/lamb stew or any soup. You can also add a bit back to the houmus you will be making.
Most recipes call for tahini, a paste made from sesame and olive oil. I however like to do it my own way. I buy unhulled sesame seeds and soak them in water for a few hours (I actually do it overnight at the same time I soak the beans). The next day I drain them and lightly toast them over low heat for 6-8 min. I prefer to roast them in ghee (clarified butter), but olive oil is perfect, if you like. Be careful as they can burn easily.
You can use very little oil, say a table spoon per a cup of sesame, to even half a cup of oil. I use a few table spoons of butter.
4 cups of cooled, drained chickpeas (cooked or canned)
1/2 cup of sesame tahini or 3/4 cup of roasted sesame
1/2 cup of olive oil (and add more if needed)
2 teaspoons of salt
2 cloves of garlic (optional)
1/4 – 1/2 cup of lemon juice from squeezed lemons (optional)
Put all the ingredients into a blender or a food processor and puree it until it reaches the desired smoothness. I like it crunchy but you can make it really smooth. (Note that a regular hand blender will not puree sesame seeds. They will stay rough. To smooth them out you will need a high-power blender or a high-grade food processor. Alternatively, use tahini and your hand blender is perfect for the task.) I use a blender for pureeing, but a food processor is a faster and more convenient option.
It is now ready and delicious. You can eat it immediately or store in a fridge for a few days. Houmus also freezes well, so you always make more batches for later use.
I encourage you to add garlic and lemon juice as without them houmus tastes plain. I like it too but I know that kids prefer the lemon variety. I also use black sesame seeds instead of the white ones, or their combination. Black sesame has a nutty flavor, so the final result resembles a nut butter.
You will love it!