Hummus be love

Picture: Hummus by Marco Verch (CC-BY-2.0)

Published: 13 May 2018

Hummus is food of the gods, says The Skip Garden Kitchen chef Sadhbh Moore.

I’ve always regarded hummus as the most complete, ideal food. It also happens to be vegan, gluten-free, delicious, nutritious, cheap, easy to make and culturally and historically fascinating…in case any or all of those are things you look for in your snacks as well.

Dip into history

Israel, Egypt, Greece, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and Palestine all lay claim to the origins of hummus. There’s not enough evidence to definitively attribute the dish to any one country, but suffice to say it’s Levantine and it predates the establishment of these countries as nation states anyway. Chickpeas are one of the earliest cultivated legumes, dating more than 10,000 years back, and tahini features in 13th century Arabic cookbooks.

What is it?

This creamy, thick spread or dip is made with cooked chickpeas; a more sustainable plant protein base for a snack than one made with an animal protein base, heavy in sat fats. It contains olive oil, which in its unheated state is extra healthy as it is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, making it good for your heart. An essential in hummus, raw garlic often comes under the so-called ‘superfood’ category. Garlic consumption has been shown to have a correlation with lower rates of cancer and lower cholesterol, and it contains a compound called allicin, which studies have found has anti-inflammatory effects. The addition of lemon juice (again, unheated) provides water soluble vitamins still fully intact. These include the ever essential immune system comrade and scurvy thwarter, vitamin C, aka ascorbic acid.

Tahini! You don’t want to get The Skip Garden Kitchen crew started on our obsession with sesame. Or maybe you do, but that will have to wait for its own dedicated article. Basically sesame is the greatest ingredient ever. Fact. As well as oodles of delicious, nutty flavour, protein, zinc, magnesium, copper, vitamin B1 and dietary fibre, gram for gram it’s got more calcium than milk! No wonder the dip’s fans have dedicated International Hummus Day to celebrate it.

Spread across the capital

Levantine rivalling hummus can be found along Green Lanes in north London and in most good Middle Eastern restaurants across the capital. If you’re looking for independent, good food minded eateries serving up the good stuff, (shameless plug alert) it’s on The Skip Garden Kitchen’s catering menu and often on our café menu. We make it with all organic ingredients and often add seasonal roast veg and spices.

If you’re looking for takeaway tubs there’s the innovative ChicP, which tackles food waste by making hummus with surplus vegetables. Lemberona makes a Fairtrade, organic hummus that is, unfortunately, not available in many shops, but with just five or six ingredients and taking only minutes to whip up, this absolutely super food is extremely easy to make yourself!

Basic tahini recipe

By Jellied Eel editor, Chris Young

1 clove garlic (or less, if you prefer)
400g tin chickpeas, drained (keep some of the juice)
A few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of tahini
Juice from half a lemon
A pinch of salt
Ideally choose organic and/or Fairtrade ingredients.

Crush the garlic and blend (or mash using a mortar and pestle) with about half of the chickpeas until smooth. Add in the rest of the ingredients and carry on blending or mashing until it’s a coarse or smooth as you like it. If it’s too dry, add in some of the reserved water from the tin.