I remember the days when a tub of plain hummus from the supermarket felt like an exotic treat. Nowadays even roast pepper hummus seems to be a staple, and the plain variety feels very shoddy indeed. 20-odd years back, wholefood companies took advantage of this fall from grace to market their own version: a chunky hummus that most likely would be derided in any Middle Eastern country. I admit I was seduced and, as a result, that's the sort I've been making ever since. Until today. Today I'm going to try to reproduce that original, creamy version.

How does one recipe differ from the other, you ask, when both use the same ingredients? The original requires the addition of a small amount of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), and a slightly different way of processing. If you fancy the chunky sort, omit the baking soda altogether, cook the chickpeas till they are just tender, and blitz them in a blender for a shorter period of time.

By the way, did you know that when the proteins from the chickpeas and those from the sesame paste tahini combine, they form a complex protein that is every bit a match for those of red meat?

Makes a large tub (about the size of a 500g pot of yoghurt); serves 6 - 8 as a side dish.


120g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight

or 1 tin of chickpeas

1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda (for the original)

1 clove crushed garlic

3 really heaped teaspoons tahini

the juice of 1 large lemon

1 generous tablespoon of olive oil

3 tablespoons of cold water

a scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

If you're unfamiliar with any of the ingredients, find out more about them here:



Rinse and drain the chickpeas, then boil them for about an hour in water (lid on), adding the baking soda (but no salt) at the start. Mine looked like this after only 45 minutes. Shocking isn't it? That's what the addition of the baking soda has done; it has broken down the skins. Rinse in a little water and drain.

If using tinned chickpeas, rinse and drain them, then boil with baking soda for 20 minutes.*


Let them cool for a while, then place them in a blender and add the rest of the ingredients in the order listed above. Now blend them. You may need to scrape down the sides a couple of times, but it really won't take more than a minute or two.

Taste, and adjust the salt and the lemon juice as needed.


Store in the fridge once it's completely cold. Serve with warm pitta bread (and whatever takes your fancy).

So, is the smooth, original version better than the chunky one? My verdict: it really is more authentic, and much nicer than the shop-bought stuff. But I'll still be making my chunky version in the future. I suppose I'm used to it now.

*This ingenious solution of reboiling tinned chickpeas with baking soda isn't mine. It comes from the website Cookie + kate. Click on the link to see their recipe.

Any questions? You can use the comments form at the bottom of the page.

Did you know?

You'll find recipes at the back of all the books in the Send for Octavius Guy series:

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