Hummus is fast becoming the nation’s favourite dip and a standard fridge staple, but how often have you made it from scratch? Save on packaging and pennies and make your own preservative-free hummus at home quickly, easily and with just six ingredients. Food writer and frugal cook, Malou Herkes, shares her top tips.
Hailing from the Levant, hummus is often a meal in it’s own right in the Middle East (‘hummus’ actually comes from the Arabic word for chickpeas). Traditionally it’s served straight-up with raw onions, pickles and pitta for dipping.
There are tonnes of other ways they serve it too, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and topped with one or several of the following: zaatar, chopped parsley, sumac, fresh mint, paprika, toasted pine nuts, whole chickpeas, hard-boiled eggs, a dollop of tahini, chunks of spiced lamb or minced beef, charred aubergine, chopped salad, or spiced caramelised onions… the list goes on.
Hummus is a versatile thing and can adapt to snack, meze or main meal depending on what you’re after. Stock up on the few basic ingredients you’ll need to make it, and you might find yourself saving on pennies and a heck of a lot of packaging in the long-run.
These are the basics you’ll need to make homemade hummus:
You can either use tinned chickpeas or if you want true authenticity (and you’re trying to save cash), cook the chickpeas from their dried form. Soak them overnight in plenty of cold water, then drain and place in a saucepan covered with a good amount of water. Add a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to the water. This will help to make your chickpeas super tender, which is exactly what you’re looking for. Bring to the boil, skimming away any scum from the surface, then simmer until they break easily when pressed between your fingers.
If you eat hummus a lot, it’s a good idea to cook the chickpeas in big batches and freeze them in portions ready to blitz up when you feel like it. If you do this, freeze them in their cooking water to keep them tender.
The essential ingredient in any good hummus is tahini. Tahini is basically ground sesame seeds. It has a slightly bitter but deliciously nutty taste. How much you add is totally personal and depends on whether you prefer the taste of chickpeas or the taste of tahini to come through more. If you’re not sure, start with a couple of tablespoons and taste as you go. There’s plenty of good shop-bought tahini out there or you can make your own from scratch very easily.
The classic flavourings are lemon juice, garlic and salt, and if you want to keep it basic, this is a great place to start. A pinch of ground cumin is also a nice addition but it doesn’t have to stop there. If you don’t mind offending the purists, add chilli flakes for a bit of heat, roasted red peppers or a big hit of roasted garlic.
Rather than oil, use either plain water, the chickpea cooking water or the liquid from the chickpea tin to loosen the paste. Add it gradually to the food processor while it’s running so you can keep an eye on the consistency. Keeping the liquid ice-cold will help to make a smoother hummus.
Although you don’t blend it into the hummus itself, a good quality olive oil is an absolute must. Drizzle it over the top just before serving so it collects in delicious puddles – the perfect finish!
How to make a super-easy basic hummus at home
Place 500g cooked chickpeas (reserve the chickpea water, aka aquafaba if you like) into a food processor. Pulse to a rough paste.
Add 150g tahini, 1 peeled and crushed garlic clove and 1 teaspoon of salt, then blend until smooth.
With the processor still running, gradually add the juice from 1 lemon and just enough ice-cold chickpea water or plain water until super smooth.
Spoon onto a plate, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve with your favourite toppings.
Do you have any variations or go-to toppings? Share them in the comments below!