Vital author disclaimers:
1 This post is NOT a recipe for hummus. If that is what you are looking for, please type in “hummus recipe” into Google and proceed from there.
2 I am not a fan of hummus. I actually don’t even know what hummus tastes like. I decided to make it instead of buying it because a) hummus is expensive and b) I am stubborn (this will make more sense in approximately three minutes).
3 I am actually a pretty good cook. I swear. And I’d like to issue a public apology to my mother for the disaster that occurred on Saturday.
Planning, shopping, cooking, assembling, hosting – most people dread dinner parties, but they excite me more than they should. I’ll relish the day I have an actual dining room with more than four chairs, various sized wine classes (made of glass!), cutlery sets (made of silver!) and napkins (made of cloth!).
A few days ago I invited some friends over for a Mediterranean-themed dinner party, mostly because I’d been craving food from a fantastic restaurant in the East Village called Nomad. I thought I’d be adventurous and cook some of my favourite dishes.
Well…this is the tale of how I tried, failed, tried again and succeeded to make pseudo-hummus as one of two dips to accompany a pitta bread appetiser. The key word to take into account here is pseudo.
While there are many recipes for this famous, trendy dip on the Internet, the basic ingredients are chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), olive oil, salt, cumin, lemon juice, paprika and tahini sauce.
This first picture is of my chickpea station. Why are there stations? Because apparently the hummus comes out smoother if you remove the outer skin from each bean.
What is tahini sauce, you ask? I had the same question. All I knew was that it sounded expensive. It’s basically sesame seeds that have been pureed with olive oil. Also known as something I’d never, ever use again. So I – liking to experiment when it comes to cooking and always keen to save a buck – decided to make my own tahini sauce. How hard could it be?! Answer: harder than it should have been.
The recipe I looked at said to toast the sesame seeds. These are them, in a pan, just out of the oven.
I shouldn’t have toasted the sesame seeds because what it turned into was a burnt-looking and tasting paste. Even after adding the chickpeas, it still looked off. Really off. I may not have known what hummus tasted like but I knew that it wasn’t what I’d concocted. My roommate, who is an avid hummus eater, refused to taste it on my behalf. I don’t blame her.
For a moment after creating this cat food-esque monstrosity, I contemplated running out to the store, buying a tub of hummus and calling it a day. I could feel the defeat setting in. But then I saw another can of chickpeas I’d bought (did my subconscious expect me to fail? probably) and thought “no Fran, you will not go down with this ship”. From scratch, damn it, from scratch!
This is what failure looks like.
And so I decided to try again. Out of sesame seeds, I used almond butter, which after a quick Google search was a suitable alternative. Off came the chickpea skins, on went my hand blender, in went the salt, olive oil, cumin, lemon juice and almond butter. And voila! Something not horrid and suitably edible.
This batch was vision, taste and roommate approved. Success!
What did I learn from this experience?
Just buy the tahini sauce.
Or, if you’re stubborn like me, don’t let your first batch of chocolate-looking hummus get you down. My main bit of advice, however, is that tasting is key. If you haven’t tasted it, don’t serve it.
Francisca Da Silveira