Garlic Houmous

It’s funny how new things can change your perspective.  For instance, ever since I’ve become a sort of “amateur food photographer/stylist” I’ve begun to look at photography in a completely new light.  Another example is the book I’ve been reading, Figures of Speech.  It’s the most witty, novel book written by Arthur Quinn (most certainly worth the price).  Every time I walk away from reading that book I find that my mind is more sharp, my speech more witty, my gait more jaunty.  It’s a lovely thing.

But onto houmous.  As I was sipping my smoothie this morning, I just happened to glance over to the window to see the most perfectly filtered, white, natural light shining through.  Within minutes I had inhaled the rest of my smoothie and was in the kitchen peeling garlic and making tahini.  I had to make more houmous sooner or later today, so I opted sooner to take advantage of the beautiful light.  Of course, during photography, Rachmaninov had to make his cameo appearance.

The little sweetheart thought I might need some help, but opted to go chase after a toy.  Ah, dear…

And as a side note, houmous is actually not Greek.  Many people think it is, but it isn’t traditionally eaten in Greece.  It’s actually a Levant food, with the earliest records of similar recipes being found in thirteenth century cookbooks published in Cairo.  Pretty neat, no?

Garlic Houmous

My houmous is particularly garlicky, with three raw cloves of garlic.  The flavour does lose its edge after a few days in the refrigerator, but you could always use less garlic in the initial.

1/4 cup unhulled sesame seeds*

3 large cloves raw garlic, peeled

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, preferably homemade but canned works too

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon coriander

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

water, or additional lemon juice and/or olive oil**

In the bowl of a food processor, throw in your sesame seeds.  Grind until a paste forms.  This will take about 8-10 minutes of grinding, so it is best to give your machine breaks (that is, if you don’t own a Vitamix; if you do, then you are very lucky) and to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Throw in your garlic cloves and grind until a sticky paste forms, and once again scrape down the sides of your bowl.

Throw in your chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, oregano, coriander, and cayenne.  Pulse until a very thick and chunky paste forms.  Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.  With your machine still running, pour in water (or lemon juice or olive oil) in a steady stream–just enough to reach your desired consistency.  I like my houmous to be thick and creamy; but, at the same time, not dry or runny.  Serve cold with an additional drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of cayenne, and a scattering of whole chickpeas.

*I can’t seem to ever find tahini that is not rancid, so I just opt to make my own.  I grind mine until it is thick and pasty, because houmous doesn’t require a runny, dressing-like tahini.  If you have tahini that isn’t rancid, you’ll need about 2 heaping tablespoons.

**I generally thin my houmous with water, because I usually don’t want any additional lemon or olive oil flavours at this point.  Just do whatever suits your tastes.

Makes about 500 grams

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