Several years ago in a Persian cookbook I read about cooking chickpeas with baking soda to break down the skins and make the chickpeas form a smooth puree for hummus. Then I started seeing it everywhere, including in the popular Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi book, “Jerusalem.” You soak chickpeas overnight then dry saute them with a teaspoon of baking soda until they’re coated all over. Add water and simmer until the peas are tender. so when you pinch a pea after cooking, it smashes in your fingers like a dot of mashed potato. Another secret to this creamy hummus is Soom tahini, available online (www.soomfoods.com), made with Ethopian sesame seeds and packaged by a small Philadelphia-based company. The final trick is ice chips or ice water, also used by my Persian source, Ottolenghi, and others. After the mixture is pureed, work in enough ice water to make the consistency you prefer, then let the food processor work for a few minutes (never leave the machine unattended because it can crawl off the counter). Spread the hummus in a shallow bowl, add a swirl of olive oil, and a sprinkle of sumac, a slightly tart, lemony Middle Eastern spice.
|1||cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained|
|1||teaspoon baking soda|
|Juice of 1 lemon|
|2||tablespoons tahini, or more to taste|
|2||tablespoons ice water, or more to taste|
|Olive oil (for sprinkling)|
|Sumac (for sprinkling)|
1. In a large saucepan, combine the chickpeas with baking soda. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 3 minutes or until the peas are covered all over with the baking soda. Add the salt and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and skim the surface thoroughly. Lower the heat and simmer for 25 to 40 minutes (depending on how old the chickpeas are) or until the peas are tender. Drain them into a colander and leave to cool to lukewarm.
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2. In a food processor, combine the peas, lemon juice, and tahini. Work until the mixture forms a thick paste. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, lemon juice, or tahini, if you like.
3. With the motor running, add 2 tablespoons of the ice water. Check the consistency of the hummus. If you want a thinner hummus, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Let the mixture whir for 2 minutes, stopping it to scrape down the sides of the workbowl several times.
4. Transfer to a shallow bowl, smooth the top, and sprinkle with olive oil and sumac.