August 6, 2007
Hummus a Tune, My
Little Garbanzo Bean
We are told that
things are not always what they seem. In fact, we are told that so often
that when someone says it, we typically roll our eyes and ignore them.
Yet, it is perhaps
in the kitchen where this cliché got its start. Where things of great
subtlety and complexity and exotic-sounding names are often made from
the simplest arrangement of ingredients.
Hummus, in recent
years, has become an increasingly popular import because it is both
filling and constructed in no way from the flesh of animals. It is also
popular at parties, where the hoity-toity can pretend to be worldly by
knowing which crudités are the best to dip into it.
Typically, it is
made from garbanzo beans, which are called chick peas when offered in
all-you-care-to-eat salad bars. But, if you are throwing a party and
wish to impress society’s elite, you can substitute the black bean for
the garbanzo (hear, now, the oohs and ahhs!).
We are deeply
familiar with the nobility of the black bean. It is a bean that has
taken to heart the words of Whitman, “Take your hat off to nothing known
or unknown.” It bows to no one, but goes to work with a pride and
dignity not readily evident among its fellow legumes.
people is the equal pride of purpose among the key ingredients of
tahini. It is these two fellows, who will form the basis for a new kind
of hummus, providing a bridge around the world and bringing together the
best of two cultures.
Tahini is what you
call sesame seed paste. It will come in a liquid with the viscosity of
motor oil, but it will be a lovely off-white rather than black.
Stir together two
cups of cooked black beans and a teaspoon of tahini. Crush them together
with a potato masher and add them to a food processor.
You perhaps are
wondering why it is necessary to first mash them. The answer is as
simple as the black bean is quietly strong. The bean-tahini mix will
start out thick, and if your food processor is not up to the task, there
is the chance that what you will produce is a continuing whiff of smoke
rolling out from the motor controlling the spinning blades.
It might be
necessary for you to grease the skids, so to speak. Some might interpret
this as offering the black beans a bribe. If the beans were to catch
word that this was your intention, you might find yourself challenged to
a duel – pistols at the break of day, the way any proper gentleman seeks
You can best
accomplish this by adding small amounts of extra virgin olive oil. Do
this a little at a time, and stop when the blades are able to pass
easily through the beans and tahini. Add a couple of whole garlic cloves
(watching them sliced and diced should provide cheap entertainment) and
also some lemon juice. Were you to make hummus with garbanzo beans, this
would be the extent of it. After finishing, you would grab a pita and
crudités and begin to feast.
Here, however, we
continue. Add some cumin seeds that you’ve first toasted on the
stovetop, or cumin powder. You will also want to add perhaps paprika and
shredded red onion.
Shredding red onion
is a fairly simple affair. Take a hunk of red onion and run it across a
grater several times. In this form, the onion-y goodness will more
There are others who
might suggest adding some roasted red pepper or perhaps even bits of
jalapeno pepper. As with all things, the sky is the limit concerning
substitutions – it is better to try and fail than to live life with your
tail tucked between your legs. Feel the freedom!
Make sure that while
combining these things, the hummus remains somewhat liquid. It should be
thick enough that it can hold a cucumber slice end on end, but not so
thick that one bite’s worth will – upon hitting your stomach – form a
ball of concrete. Use olive oil to achieve desired consistency, making
sure to add only a little at a time.
Once this is
achieved, you have finished. The name might be intimidating, but the
process by which it is produced is simpler than changing the oil in your
car. Throw things into a food processor, and let electricity and sharp
blades do the heavy lifting.
© 2007 North Star Writers
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