Have you heard of the term 'mezze' ? I'm sure for those of you in the middle east, it's a common term. 'Mezze' is a selection of appetisers accompanying the main course in Middle Eastern cuisine. I for one can survive entirely on just mezze and the fresh platter of salads served at any Arabic restaurant. The salad usually comprises of fresh rocket leaves/ Arugula (Gerger in Arabic) along with whole tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and bell peppers. A basic Mezze platter comprises of Hummus, Baba Ghanoush, Mouhammara, Mouttabel, all of these being vegetarian. My favourites are still the classics - Hummus and Moutabal, quite popular with my kids too and can easily be made at home.
The base of Hummus is chickpeas (and not from the can please, can't imagine the sodium content in that one can alone). Chickpeas has many health benefits, including Protein (very important if you're a vegan), Fiber and Folate. The other ingredient, Tahini (or sesame paste), is in my opinion highly underrated. It's rich in minerals such as phosphorus, lecithin, magnesium, potassium and iron, is one of the best sources of calcium and also high in vitamin E and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and B15. Now these two key ingredients alone are more than half the list in your daily supplement capsule!
How about being bold and adventurous in your supermarket trip by heading to the lentils isle (uncharted territory is it?) and picking up a pack of dry chickpeas? The cooked chickpeas freezes very well. Alternatively I also make delicious curries with it, use it as a salad ingredient or as a soup thickener. If you have more ideas, please feel free to share them.
Most of the time what happens in my kitchen is, in the tasting process, we kind of eat up half of the hummus, enjoying the finger licking process. I love it with more of a lemony flavour and hubby prefers the garlic to be strong, so by the time we come to a middle ground, half of the hummus is already devoured.
So here's my simple Hummus recipe dedicated to all of you busy moms (dads too, no doubt about that) who want to effortlessly add something healthy to the table. You will soon discover many innovative ways to use the humble, yet very versatile Hummus.
1/2 cup dried chickpeas (or 2 cups cooked chickpeas)
1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
3-4 tbsps fresh lemon juice
1 or 2 garlic cloves
Himalayan salt to taste
2 tbsps water or liquid from the chickpeas
Arabic sumac or paprika (just to sprinkle)
Wash the dried chickpeas well and soak them overnight in a large pot of water. The next day, before cooking them in a pressure cooker or instant pot, rinse them once again. Add the Himalayan salt and cook until they are soft. The chickpeas need to be really soft (think slightly mushy) to ensure the blending process and I thank God once again for whoever invented this innovation called the 'pressure cooker', it really halves the cooking time! When the chickpeas are done, strain it but make sure you keep some of the cooking water.
Once cooled, place the chickpeas in a food processor along with the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and blend it well, until you get the desired texture, what we are looking for is a creamy texture. If it's too thick, add some more of the cooking water.
Serve the hummus topped with swirls of olive oil, a sprinkle of sumac/paprika or chopped parsley.