Sunday, April 29, 2012

The fifth sense

I'm in my living room, sitting in front of my computer. I have a cold, one of those colds that you least expect to get because the past few days have been so sunny, spring was in the air and flowers were blooming and the idea of going out when you've just had a shower and your hair was all wet, was a good idea.

But now, some days later, my nose is running, my throat hurts, my ears are buzzing, I have a slight fever and I can barely keep my eyes open. Outside, the weather seems to be in sync with how I feel. It is raining like it never rains in Holland, with thunders that you rarely hear when you're living in this part of the world. How I miss that sound.

The worse thing of all, apart from the fact that I can hardly speak let alone sing, is that I can barely taste a thing. Not that I have much of an appetite but even my tea is devoid of flavor, even after I've poured in it more than enough of my favorite honey. I'm daydreaming of food that tastes bold and bright and adventurous and new but, alas, I can only eat chicken soup.

I'm one of those people to whom food is not just for survival. I love food with all my heart, and being in this state saddens me. I know it sounds weird but it does and, all I'm dreaming right now, is the food I had a couple of days ago, when I still had all five of my senses, the last thing I cooked and photographed for the blog; hummus.

I love hummus; with the garlic and the chickpeas and the tahini and my own personal touch, the sumac. Oh, it's torturous to have in the fridge and not being able to taste it. Torture, I tell you! But that can't stop me from writing about it or sharing it with you.

So, let me start by setting things straight and by demolishing another false idea about Greek food. Hummus is not Greek. Many people think it is, but we don't usually eat it in Greece, at least not too many people do. It is a Middle Eastern recipe which is also very popular in Cyprus.

I like my hummus thick and creamy, not stodgy. It needs to have some miniscule legume pieces still intact, giving it some added texture; it needs to have a lot of garlic and lemon juice balancing the sweetness of the chickpeas, and a generous amount of that divine sesame paste that is beyond amazing in flavor; it needs to be highly aromatic, taking my senses by storm and not just be another dip you simply dunk your bread in; it needs to be creamy enough to be able to scoop with a piece of pita but thick enough that it doesn't run down the side of my hand.
I hate runny hummus, or runny any dip for that matter.

I know, there are so many recipes for hummus out there, who needs another one, right? Well, I don't care. I love hummus and I need to share this with you now. So, since I can't just go open my fridge and savor my own, please make this for yourselves, and enjoy it for me, will you?


If you choose to make the hummus with dried chickpeas, something I always do since it results in a superior-tasting dip, you'll need to start the night before by soaking the chickpeas. I know it sounds like extra work, but seriously, it is worth it. Of course, using canned chickpeas is easier and you can be more spontaneous, preparing it whenever you feel like it. Your choice, really. Below, I include instructions for both.

It's the perfect mezes to accompany either meat or fish. Serve it with fresh baked pita or plain bread, or an array of fresh seasonal vegetables.

You can halve the recipe if you want a smaller yield.

Yield: around 1 ½ kg hummus, enough for many people

500 g dried chickpeas (that'll yield around 1 kg cooked chickpeas), or 1 kg canned chickpeas
1 tsp baking soda
4 medium-sized garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
160 ml tahini, stirred well
160 ml lemon juice (from 3 lemons), freshly squeezed
200 ml liquid from the cooked chickpeas
130 ml extra virgin olive oil, plus a little for drizzling on top
½ tsp salt
Sumac, for sprinkling on top

Special equipment: colander, large food processor or blender


if using dried chickpeas
The night before, put the dried chickpeas in a large bowl, add the baking soda and 2 liters of water. Stir with a spoon and leave the chickpeas to soak overnight. They need 12-14 hours of soaking.

The next day, empty the chickpeas into a colander and rinse them well under cold running water. Place them in a large pot and add 2 liters of tap water. Bring to the boil over high heat. You will notice that once the water starts to boil, the chickpeas will start to create a white foam that will come up to the surface of the water. Remove the foam with a large spoon and drain the chickpeas in a colander. Return the chickpeas in the pot and add 2 liters of boiling water. Bring them to the boil over high heat, then turn heat down to low and cook chickpeas for 20-30 minutes, or until they soften. Not all chickpeas are the same so you need to keep an eye on them. You want them to be tender but not mushy. One way to check doneness, apart from simply tasting one of the chickpeas, is by pressing one with your finger; if it breaks easily, it is ready, if not, you need to cook them for a while longer. The chickpeas must not be tough otherwise your hummus will be grainy.

When the chickpeas are cooked, reserve 300 ml of the cooking liquid (you'll need 200 ml but you might need more) and drain them in a colander. Allow them to cool before continuing with the preparation of the hummus.

if using canned chickpeas
Make sure you keep the liquid when you open the can of chickpeas. Measure it and add enough water to reach 200 ml of liquid.

make the hummus
In the food processor or blender, add the drained, cool chickpeas (or the canned chickpeas) and then add the chopped garlic cloves, the tahini, the lemon juice, 200 ml of the cooking liquid (or the canned chickpeas-liquid along with the water), the olive oil and the salt.

Process until smooth and check the seasoning, adding more salt if needed. Check the texture of the hummus. If it is too thick, add a little more cooking liquid or water to thin it out.

Transfer as much as you want into a serving bowl, drizzle some olive oil on top and sprinkle with a little sumac.

You can keep it in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for up to 5 days. Take it out of the fridge half an hour before serving and stir it very well with a spoon or spatula to make it creamy and to fluff it up.


  1. I'm so sorry to hear you're ill dear Magda and it's truly miserable having a bad cold. Hope you get well very soon. Maybe some more soup and a nice film will lift your spirits a little. Thanks so much for finding the energy to post such a wonderful recipe - yours has to be the nicest looking hummus I've ever seen and I can only imagine how delicious it must taste. Take care and get well soon, xoxo.

  2. looks delicious! Wish you get better and can eat some more before it disappears from the fridge!

  3. Magda! Beautiful! Reminds me of the hummus I had recently in London..:-)

  4. Emily Vanessa — thank you so much. I think I do need more soup and a good film. Any suggestions?

    PolaM — thank you! S has eaten almost all of it, I think I need to make a new batch.

    Shri — thanks!

  5. Beautiful, creamy, lovely hummus you have made. Your photos make me want to dive in. Thanks for a wonderful simple recipe and hope you are feeling better.

  6. Lovely photos. I think it's hard to take nice pics of something that is essentially a tan puree (however delicious!) so nice work!

  7. We love love love hummus in our house. We always have a jar of tahini in the fridge and pita bread ready to dip into it. But, I never knew it wasn't Greek? It seems to always be on our falafels. But, maybe falafels aren't Greek either!! Anyway, hope you feel better so you can scoop up some of that goodness.

    1. Hi Sarah, no falafel isn't Greek either :)

  8. I also love hummus. I have been missing sumac lately. I think of it when I make eggs! I will see if I can pick some up! I sure hope you feel better soon. Being sick in the Spring is noooo fun!

  9. The texture looks so perfect. Beautiful.

  10. Magda, I'm sorry you aren't feeling well. I think I have the same cold and it's no fun. Can't taste a thing and feel pretty bad.
    But your hummus looks just perfect. I'm with you... hummus should nice and thick "not stodgy" as you put it;)
    Get well soon,

  11. get well soon Magda...

    Hummus is also my favorite thing in the world! Love how smooth yours is!

  12. A fabulous hummus! That is one of my favorite dips.

    April has been quite a gloomy month. Hopefully May will be better. I love thunderstorms, though...



  13. I caught a terrible throat virus during Easter and I had to take antibiotics to get rid of it. I hope you are feeling better by now. It is good that you clarified things about hummus. I love hummus but it is definitely not Greek. Your hummus look absolutely perfect and I am sure it cheered you up a little bit!

  14. ohhh the first image of the chick peas on the counter beautiful! I want to get it framed, lol. Can't wait to try this.

  15. Oh Magda, that looks like my ideal hummus! Creamy, thick with some texture... I usually end up using canned chick peas, I am sure this is what makes your look (and taste for sure!) superior.

  16. How absolutely delightful looking... gorgeous photos. And very interesting, I guess I assumed Greeks ate hummus? I mean, I knew it was a Middle Eastern thing, but I thought Greeks ate it, too.

  17. It' been raining a lot here as well. You have done well to post hummus, it is one of those things I never make often enough, and I do make it almost every week. I'll try sumac next time. It never survives in the fridge, by the way...

    I hope you feel well soon.

  18. There can never be too many humous recipes IMHO
    This looks FAB
    I'll try it your way.
    I live in Greekville-Astoria NY
    The trick is getting good chickpeas to begin with I many are big and tough
    merci carolg

  19. PS for that cold try eating pomegrante seeds daily(arils) you can freeze them
    I haven't had a cold/flu in 8 years since I started..I have no idea why it works and the juice does NOT?!
    but it works
    Love yr blog

  20. I am a bit late to wish you "perastika" but I just came out of the woods myself from the exact symptoms you had. It really feels terrible. Your Hummus looks fantastic, your pictures even better. Well done! The sumac idea sounds great I'll try it myself. God bless

    1. I'm sorry to hear you haven't been feeling well either. Perastika mas! Yes, the sumac is perfect sprinkled on top of the hummus. You have to give it a try!

  21. I've never made hummus without using canned chickpeas before, so I gave this one a shot. I converted to American measurements and used a bit more salt, but it turned out great! Thanks for the recipe! And I certainly hope you feel better soon. I'm at the tail end of a two week long cold, so I can sympathize.

    1. Thank you for the feedback. I'm very happy you liked it!

  22. Magda, I sincerely hope you're back on your feet by now! You got me under your spel with this one.. I've been obsessed with your hummus since you published your post. Made it this weekend for a brunch with friends. It kept all its promises: simply gorgeous!

    1. Hi Myriam. I'm thrilled you liked the hummus!!
      I'm fine now, thanks :)

  23. I love that special citric taste that sumac imparts in a dish---I will definitely use it on hummus next time. wonderful idea, Magda!

  24. Sing it sistah, about the loss of taste and how upsetting it is to those of us who enjoy the sensation of taste just a wee bit too much :) I'm not so sure falafel isn't greek in that I think revythokeftedes [a.k.a chickpea-balls fried] are traditional , no? Cuisine is so interwoven and one of the first things that one notices in a foreign place. I guess since almost everyone and their mother-nation has passed through Greece maybe they picked up a few things, or vice versa via Greece's maritime tradition.
    I heard somewhere [on TV ergo not sure how trustworthy the info is] but some guy who was a nutrition specialist in some way claimed that the turkish "dolmades" category of food is based on a greek food called "thriies" so who knows? As long as it tastes good! is *my* mantra :)


    1. Us Greeks say that everything is Greek but dolmades is indeed Greek. No question about it.
      Revythokeftedes and falafel are similar but not the same. Falafel is heavily spiced and is sometimes made with fava beans (koukia). Revythokeftedes include mostly herbs.
      Yes, if something tastes good, that's all I need to know about it. And then, I need to find out how to make it ;)

  25. I've a friend that adds a cup of cooked pumpkin to the blender as the garbanzos are being pureed. I think it's a Polish twist on the Greek original. What do you say?

  26. Already tried this recipe and it turned out great!