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All Hail Hummus

One of the most recognised dishes to come out of the Middle East, hummus has become a staple in British fridges.

Precious Pea Pod

Created from the protein-packed, humble chickpea, we spoke to hummus hero, Ayleen Drive, from The Precious Pea, about this simple Middle Eastern side… 

“Houmous, hummus, however you choose to spell it, comes from an Arabic word meaning “chickpea”. Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, have been cultivated for thousands of years. All over the Middle East these little peas are grown in pods containing just one or two and transformed into hummus. 

It is impossible to get people to agree on a recipe for hummus, but common ingredients are; cooked chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, oil, water and salt. Some people think it essential to include garlic, others insist on cumin, black pepper or za’atar for an authentic taste. 

In the Middle East, hummus is never eaten cold. It is usually served at room temperature and sometimes hot. Why not try it hot with strips of toasted flatbread? Garnish with olive oil, a few whole chickpeas, and add a sprinkling of za’atar or chilli flakes. 

Hummus is probably one of the earliest prepared foods, but here in the UK, most people did not discover it until the 20th century. In the 1980s, Waitrose was the first UK supermarket to stock hummus. Britain is now the hummus capital of Europe. Compared with other Europeans, we are twice as likely to have a pot in our fridge. 

If you want to make your own hummus, soak, cook and chill your chickpeas rather than using tinned.  Good quality oil also makes a big difference. For an authentic taste and healthy option, I would recommend extra virgin olive oil. If you do not like tahini or if you are allergic to sesame seeds, leave it out. If you can tolerate other nut butters or just prefer the taste, add a little to replace the tahini. You can’t call it hummus, but if you fancy substituting a different legume, try cannellini beans. Mash or whizz them up with a selection of the ingredients above, and make sure you use a good amount of lemon juice and seasoning; to make it extra special add lots of fresh herbs. 

Greek philosophers Plato and Socrates both make reference to hummus and its nutritional values in their writings. Good quality hummus is packed with chickpeas, a powerhouse of protein and vitamins. These little legumes have been called the “Queen of Aphrodisiacs”; packed with iron, magnesium, zinc and potassium, all known to boost physical energy.” 

Learn more about Precious Pea’s delicious hummus flavours at; www.thepreciouspea.co.uk 

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West Country FOODLOVER is a print magazine and news based website offering a foodie’s guide of what’s hot across the South West. We inspire foodies with great seasonal recipes, competitions, news and events. The magazine, website and newsletter reach more than 128,000 foodies each issue.