Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Yotam Ottolenghi's Amazing Hummus

If you have not taken a look at Yotam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem cookbook, I highly reccomend that you do. Ottolenghi is a Israeli chef who has several restaurants in London.  His gorgeous cookbook is full of beautiful vibrant salads, vegetables and other amazing dishes that I want to eat every day.  I have been making his hummus and it is by far the best hummus that I have ever tasted. It is silky smooth, light and fluffy, with a gorgeous balance of chickpea flavor and tahini, tempered by a bit of lemon juice and garlic.

I like to eat it on the day that I make it warm, topped with fried bits of lamb. The leftover hummus is great the next day, cold smeared onto bread or slices of cucumber, carrot and celery.

There are two tricks that make this hummus great.  The first is that the chickpeas are cooked with a bit of baking soda.  The baking soda allows the chickpeas to cook a bit faster, but more importantly breaks down the outside shell of the chickpea.   The second trick is slightly overcook the chickpeas until they mush easily between your two fingers. Doing this results in a super smooth, silky and almost fluffy texture.  Trust me, when I say that you have never had hummus this good!

This recipe is for a purist hummus with just garlic, tahini and lemon juice as a flavoring.  You can jazz it up by adding some cumin or adding more tahini to taste.

Ottolenghi's Hummus, as interpreted by me

250 grams dried chickpeas
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 to 1 cup tahini
4 tablespoons lemon juice (about a half of a large juicy lemon)
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons ice cold water

The night before you want to make the hummus, put the dried chickpeas in a bowl and cover with plenty of water and let the beans soak over night.

The next day, drain the chickpeas. Put a large pot on the stove on high heat.  Pour in the drained chickpeas and the baking soda.  Stir for about 3 minutes.  You will see that skins of the chickpeas start to disintegrate a bit and a film will form on the bottom of the pot.  Pour in 1.5 liters water and bring to a boil. Skim off the foam periodically. Cook the chickpeas for 20 to 30 minutes until they are very tender and can be mushed easily between two fingers.  Drain the peas.

Pour the chickpeas into a food processor and process until the peas are smooth.  Add in the tahini, salt, lemon juice, and the garlic (pressed through a garlic press).  Process until combined.  Taste teh hummus and adjust the salt and tahini to your liking. With the motor on, add the cold water, one tablespoon at a time.

Serve warm or cold with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of zatar spice, which adds a lemony bite as well as a gorgeous red color.  Some toasted pine nuts also taste wonderful on top.

I like to serve it as dinner with bits of lamb on top to smear over pita or a flat bread:

500 grams boneless lamb chop
1 teaspoon cumin
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon peppar
chopped parsley
a sprinkle of zatar
olive oil for frying

Cut the lamb into small bite size pieces.  Sprinkle with the salt, cumin, peppar and lemon juice.

Put a frying pan on the stove, preferably cast iron, onto the hottest heat.  Add a generous dollop of olive oil.  Fry the lamb, in two or three batches, until it is nicely browned, a few minutes on each side.

To serve, smear a generous amount of hummus on a platter.  Heap the lamb in the center, sprinkle with parsley, a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and dust it with the zatar.

Serve with sliced cucumber and flat bread.

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