hot paprika

making hummus in India

24th November 2009

Now I know I promised some delicious Indian dishes when I was in India, but during my stay, I enjoyed someone else making them, rather than me cooking them.  My dear friend Mary, had organised a wonderful Indian lady with a huge smile to cook lunch for us.   We were quite a big group of  6 hungry adults and 4 hungry, very appreciative children.  Each day there was a new dish, more delicious than the next.  Each day there was a soupy dal, rice, two types of vegetable palya (a dry vegetable dish)and either chapati or rice rotti.  The chapati went very well with the hummus.

When packing for India, I packed a very big jar of tahini for the purpose of experimenting with a hummus recipe that was given to me by a few very important experts in this field (thank-you Noa and Tal).  Also, it is one way that I know the children will get a good dose of protein while we are in Mysore, in the South of India.

There are a few secrets to this recipe; one being the addition of bicarbonate of soda for a softer chickpea, good quality traditional tahini, the addition of lightly toasted & ground cumin seeds, and the addition of the ice water to create an aerated, creamy hummus.

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Makes about 2½ cups


1¼ cup dried chickpeas

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

½ tsp cumin seeds

½ cup good quality tahini

salt to taste

juice from ½ lemon, approximately 2 Tbsp, plus more if needed

½ cup ice water

¼ tsp hot paprika


1.  Soak the chickpeas and bicarb of soda overnight with double their volume in water. Drain, rinse and place in a large pot, and generously cover with water, bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that comes to the surface.

2.  Simmer until the chickpeas are soft, about 2 – 3 hours depending on the brand and freshness of your chickpeas. You will need to add more water as they simmer.  Once done, the chickpeas should be quite soft but not mushy – drain and set aside.

prepare the hummus 

3.  Dry roast the cumin seeds in a small pan, when lightly toasted, turn off the heat and grind to a powder in a mortar and pestle.

4.  Measure out 2 cups chickpeas/350g (any remaining chickpeas can be used as garnish) and place in a food processor attached with an S-blade, run the machine, stopping and scraping down the sides occasionally until the beans are crumbly.

5.  Pour in tahini, add ground cumin, lemon juice, salt, and blend again until well combined.  With the machine still running, start drizzling in the ice water, so that the hummus starts to become fluffy and aerated. Depending on the beans you may not use all the water, or you may need more.

6.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes, taste, and adjust to your own personal taste by adding more tahini, lemon, or salt.

7.  To serve, spread the hummus in a shallow bowl, drizzle with olive oil, more lemon juice, and a sprinkling of hot paprika. You could also garnish with toasted black sesame seeds or an assortment of sprouts.

Serve with freshly made chapati or pita bread.

Lately, I have been sautéing on very high heat – red bell peppers, or tiny cauliflower florets or eggplant cubes until slightly charred. Make a well in the center of the hummus with the back of a spoon and filling it with the vegetables of choice.

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