Anyone who has lived in Dakar, Senegal - but especially those who had kids attending the International School there - know that the world’s best hummus is created by the canteen on campus. I am a huge hummus fan, and have had many many many different kinds. Shady’s is the best I have ever eaten. Sadly, we no longer have easy access to TWGH (The world's greatest hummus) so … I had to figure out how to make my own. Admittedly, there are a lot of hummus recipes online. And really, anyone with a food processor and a couple cans of beans can make their own. But for it to be really GOOD hummus, you have to make some effort.
First, a couple thoughts: hummus should be as smooth as possible. You can achieve this with a couple of extra steps: peel your beans (yes, I know. But this is why you have children); adding baking soda to your overnight-brine liquid as well as to the cooking pot (if you’re making your own); and/or getting a really high-power blender (which makes super smooth hummus even without peeling beans. Fyi). Most of the time, I make my own beans. Sometimes, though, you just want the freaking hummus already and it is almost dinner time. So use canned. This recipe may seem long and complicated, but especially if you are using canned beans, you can go from the craving to digging in within 15 minutes. And if you're starting from scratch, the majority of this is hands-off.
Now, is this as good as Shady’s hummus? It’s pretty darn good, and honestly, since I won’t be traveling to Dakar any time soon to get a fix of the real stuff, this is going to make me happy.
One thing: in the recipe below, I include both lemon and red wine vinegar in the Tahini sauce. We actually prefer it with all red wine vinegar; the original recipe said lemon juice. Try it and see what you prefer.
Last note: you can use the Tahini sauce, below, as a stand-alone recipe, too, for things like dip, etc.
Extra-Smooth Hummus Recipe
Original recipe found on Seriouseats.com, but I’ve made some pretty hefty changes.
Yield: 5ish cups
1/2 lb. dried chickpeas (1 generous cup, 225g) or use 2 15 oz cans of beans
2 teaspoons (12g) baking soda, divided
1 small onion, split in half
2 medium cloves garlic
1 whole recipe Tahini Sauce With Garlic and Lemon:
1 whole head garlic, broken into individual unpeeled cloves (about 20 cloves)
1/3 cup fresh juice from 2 to 3 lemons (80ml)
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (2g)
1 generous cup tahini paste (about 10 ounces; 300g by weight)
Cold water (maybe up to 1/2 cup)
1/2 - 1 tsp cumin (depending on your taste) + more for serving
Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
Paprika, pimente sauce, for serving
1. If using canned beans, skip to step 3. Combine beans, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 2 tablespoons salt in a large bowl and cover with 6 cups cold water. Stir to dissolve salt and baking soda. Let stand at room temperature overnight. Drain and rinse beans thoroughly.
2. Place beans in a large Dutch oven or saucepan. Add remaining baking soda, 1 tablespoon salt, onion, and garlic. Add 6 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer, cover with lid slightly cracked, and cook until beans are completely tender, to the point of falling apart, about 2 hours. Check on beans occasionally and top up with more water if necessary, they should be completely submerged at all times. You will be able to skim off a good bit of the skins as they float to the top of the water.
3. Make your Tahini Sauce: Combine garlic, lemon juice and vinegar in a blender. Pulse until a pulpy puree is formed, about 15 short pulses. Let sit for 10 minutes. While this sits, measure out tahini into a large bowl. Add cumin and a small pinch of salt. Set a fine mesh strainer mesh over the tahini (not touching) and pour the garlic pulpy blend in. Press out as much liquid as you can with the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula, then discard solids. (These ‘solids’ make a pretty awesome start to dressing, by the way.) There is no need to wash the blender/food processor. Just pick all of the garlic papery bits out, and you’re ready for the next step.
4. Start whisking the tahini mixture; it will seize up and look really gloppy. Relax, this is normal. Add water a few tablespoons at a time, whisking in between each addition, until a smooth, light sauce is formed. The tahini sauce should very slowly lose its shape if you let ribbons of it drop from the whisk into the bowl. Season to taste with salt. Unless you’re using it all for hummus, you can refrigerate the sauce for up to 1 1/2 weeks.
5. Back to the hummus. Transfer still-hot chickpeas, onion and garlic to the food processor or high-powered blender with enough cooking liquid to barely cover them. If using canned beans, pour entire content of both cans of beans into a microwaveable container, and nuke for 3 or so minutes until nice and steamy hot. This is key; please don't skip this step. Continue with recipe. Cover blender, taking out the central insert on the blender lid. Place a folded kitchen towel over the hole in the center of the lid to allow steam to escape. Holding the towel down firmly, turn the blender to the lowest possible speed and slowly increase speed to high. If the mixture becomes too thick to blend, add cooking liquid (any additional liquid from cans, if you have any. Honestly, with canned beans, I don't usually have to add more than what is in the cans.) until it has the texture of a very thick milkshake, always starting the blender on low speed before increasing to high. If your blender comes with a push-stick for thick purees, use it. Continue blending until completely smooth, about 2 minutes.
4. Transfer hot chickpea mixture to a large bowl. Whisk in tahini sauce. Whisk in salt and cumin to taste. Transfer to a sealed container and allow to cool to room temperature. It should thicken up until it can hold its shape when spooned onto a plate.
5. When ready to serve, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkled with additional cumin and/or pimente sauce. Leftover hummus can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.