Nothing is more satisfying than a homely made Hommous bi Tahineh. Although tins of chickpeas are cheap and widely available, the Lebanese in general prefer to prepare it from scratch, the reason is that we think that the freshly cooked chickpeas are much softer and their juices are much tastier, that in turn affects the whole texture of the dip.
I find that the quality of tahini has an impact on the overall taste. Selecting a good one, though you pay a little more it is worth it. Please shake well or stir with a spoon before use because the paste tends to solidify at the bottom and you might end up with a very thin layer on top and lumps at the bottom.
In addition to its classification as a dip, Hommous bi Tahineh makes a good accompaniment to all grilled or barbecued meat including fish. Some cooks like to add a little yoghurt to the mixture which in turn enhances the lemony flavour and makes it smoother.
- 200g / 7oz dried chickpeas soaked overnight in water 3 times their volume adding 1tsp bicarbonate of soda.
- 175 ml/ 6 fl oz of tahini
- About 100 ml / 3½ fl oz lemon juice or to taste
- 5 – 6 fat cloves of garlic peeled and crushed to a paste
- 2 tbsp yoghurt (optional)
- To garnish 1 tbsp of freshly chopped parsley
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Lebanese bread or segments of red pepper to serve
- Begin by discarding the soaking water, rinse chickpeas thoroughly and tip in a medium-sized pan with a generous quantity of fresh water and boil vigorously for 10 minutes. Remove the white scum that forms on the surface, then reduce to medium heat, cover and keep checking every 20 minutes. Top up with boiling water if necessary. It should take about 45 minutes, depending on the quality of the chickpeas. Basically, they are cooked when tender. If you don’t want to proceed to the next stage, you can keep the cooked chickpeas in their liquid in the fridge for a few days, then all you need to do is reheat before making the dip.
- To make the dip: keep about two tablespoons of whole chickpeas for garnish, then tip the rest in a food processor with a little of their liquid, do not discard all the liquid yet.
- Add the rest of the ingredients with a little salt. Using a low speed, turn the food processor on, let it run for about 2 minutes then taste, adjust if necessary. Keep repeating the same process, adding the yoghurt if you choose, until you reach the consistency and the taste you think is right. The ideal consistency is one which is not too thick, nor too runny: mayonnaise-like. If it is too thick, you can thin it down with some of the reserved liquid, extra virgin olive oil and yoghurt are also other agents to make the dip smoother. If it is too thin, a little more tahini usually does the trick.
- Place the hommous in two small bowls. Arrange some of the reserved whole chickpeas in a mound in the middle, dotting the rest around with a little parsley. Finish off with a sprinkle of paprika and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
- Serve with warm Lebanese bread. If you don’t want bread, dip in with fresh red pepper segments, or any other greens such as spring onions, celery, lettuce and so forth. Hommous bi Tahineh keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days but it is best eaten fresh.
Keeping the cooking juice of the chickpeas is necessary, not only to use later as a thinner agent, but also for other purposes. For instance, if you find the mixture is too lemony or has too much garlic, you can soften it by adding some of the juice, or combined with extra virgin olive oil.