Humous, or hummus, with Walnut Oil and Cumin

“To create the perfect craters you see in houmous served in Turkish restaurants dollop the dip in the centre of the plate, then use the back of the spoon to spread it around. Rest the spoon on top of the centre of the plate and twist the plate clockwise to create an even crater in the centre: it acts as the perfect moat for the drizzle of oil.”

Frankie Unsworth, The New Art of Cooking

This is really just a tarted up version of ready-made humous (or houmous, or hummus, as some people spell it).

Serve with middle-eastern crackers and a pink vermouth with tonic and ice cocktail.

The best humous to buy

In a recent taste test (2019, by Tony Turnbull in The Times) Lidl, Aldi, and Asda all got four stars for their classic humous, while Waitrose scored three stars; and M&S and the Co-op, just two.

None scored more than three stars for ‘Moroccan-style’ humous. Waitrose was the winner of the red pepper humous category, with four stars.

What to do if you really want to make your own

It is dead simple, thankfully. The Chief Taster watched me making this and later commented, wonderingly, “it’s funny…. it just came out of a tin, but this tastes much better than bought!”. I told him I thought that it was the lemon that made the difference. As you will see in the paragraph below, you can raise the game of bought hummus by adding just a bit of that.

Into a small blender put: a standard 400g tin of chickpeas (drained); a fat clove of garlic, minus skin; a pinch of Urfa pepper flakes, or some dried chilli flakes to taste; zest and juice of a small lemon, or a lime; 60 ml/4 tbsps tahini; the same amount of olive oil; salt and pepper. Blitz.

But basically, be creative. You can substitute the chickpeas for other peas and beans – white beans (cannellini) work well. And you can use peanut butter instead of tahini.

Jazz up using any of the ideas on this post, the recipe at the bottom of this post being the simplest, but some sort of oil is essential, and a pop of green (coriander or parsley for example) looks good.

Other ideas for spicing up your humous

  • a brilliant idea from Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall’s Love Your Leftovers is to whizz up any leftover roast root vegetables (beetroot works especially well) you have and add them to your houmous.
  • another idea is to add some ground turmeric (about ½ tsp) and zest of half a lemon.
  • make a topping with a chopped preserved lemon, half a sliced cucumber, some toasted sesame seeds, sea salt and three tablespoons of olive oil.
  • try munchy seeds, sprinkled over
  • or pine nuts
  • or minced lamb, seven spices mix, and pine nuts
  • mix with za’atar and lemon and serve as a sauce for lamb
  • with rocket, roasted red peppers, and pumpkin seeds
  • finely chopped preserved lemon and turmeric
  • Nigel Slater adds peppery olive oil (two tbsps for every 250g), za’atar (pinch, approx half a teaspoon), and a ‘fat squeeze’ of lemon
  • John Gregory-Smith adds crispy fried lamb to his.
houmous with walnut oil and cumin recipe
houmous with walnut oil and cumin

Recipe for jazzing up bought houmous using cumin and walnut oil

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 150g/5 oz smoked humous
  • 2 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp walnut oil
  • Indonesian long pepper – few grinds

Method

  1. You simply dry fry the cumin seeds and crush gently in a pestle and mortar.
  2. Serve the humous in a pretty bowl, spoon the oil over, grind over the pepper and scatter over the cumin seeds and voilá.
Humous, Hommos
Hommos at the Al dar Lebanese restaurant (sadly now closed) in the Kings Road, London – served in the more traditional way with olive oil and chickpeas.

“Like the food fight between the Arabs and Israelis over who owns hummus, the dispute sadly divides two neighbouring cultures over traditions that might have united them. Borscht is enjoyed in both Ukraine and Russia.”

Maria Varenikova and Andrew E. Kramer, The New York Times
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