I'm not a big fan of the chickpea but I do appreciate its healthful qualities and try to eat it with some degree of regularity. An amusing doctor - called Dr Schmeully, I do not lie - I once visited in Sydney gave me a good recipe for a chickpea salad when advising me on how to reduce my cholesterol: chickpeas boiled with a couple of red chillies and the rind of one or two lemons, drained, mashed a bit, and some fresh chopped onion and parsley added. I went one step further and added a slug of olive oil, sauteed onion rather than fresh, a dash of salt. Oh, and a few chopped slices of ham.
Thankfully for my arteries, I've recently perfected the art of hommus making, a stellar way to ingest chickpeas, and am not embarrassed to say it's been a hit at every event I've taken it to.
Unfortunately I can't post pictures of my efforts as the last time I tried to make it, for a Lodhi Gardens picnic the other week, the blender jug blew up/I blew up the blender, and the hommus ended up on the kitchen walls. Not too attractive.
Apart from how it tastes, there are a few good things about this recipe. One is, it's healthy; chickpeas are ridiculously good for lowering cholersterol and preventing diabetes. Two, all the ingredients (except for the tahini which you only have to buy once every four or five times) are very easily and readily available at even the most humble and local of Indian grocery stores, meaning no unholy schlepps to Defence Colony or Le Marche or Star Bazaar at 7pm to try to gather ingredients. Consequently we come to three, which is that it's relatively cheap,and makes a massive amount, about twice as much as you might take to a picnic.
2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight*
a pinch of salt (maybe two pinches)
3-5 garlic cloves, depending on taste (I prefer more rather than less)
3/4 cup tahini**
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice***
1/2 cup of filtered water, plus around another 1/2 cup more as needed
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
A slug of good quality extra virgin olive oil
Rinse the soaked chickpeas well in a few changes of water, then put in saucepan, cover with water and add the salt. Bring to boil and simmer over a medium heat for two to three hours, until the chickpeas are soft enough to squash between your fingers. Skim any foam that rises to the top and discard.
While they're boiling, chop garlic cloves and place in blender or food processor. Add tahini, lemon juice and water, whizz.
Once the chickpeas have been drained and cooled, add them to the bowl along with the chilli powder and process again - add more water if it gets a bit heavy and sticky. Taste for salt, add salt if needed.
This bit is vital: once all mixed together, give another whirl in the blender for a minute or so: this will get some air into the mixture and make it light and fluffy.
Serve topped with a sprinkle of chilli powder, a glug of olive oil and perhaps a bit of chopped parsley.
Try oven-roasting the garlic cloves for a bit of a caramelised flavour.
Substitute sweet or smoked paprika, if you have any, for the chilli powder.
Add ham, which improves almost everything.
* to make things a bit quicker and easier you could substitute with two tins of chickpeas; just drain, rinse and boil for about 10-15 minutes to get rid of any residue.
**tahini is not terribly hard to find: it's always available at Star Bazaar at Kailash Colony market; undoubtedly it's available all throughout Khan Market, DefCol Market, Le Marche. I've also been surprised to see it in smaller, less expat-oriented grocery shops around the place. It's about 350rs for a big jar.
***squeezing those itsy little Indian lemons is the hardest part of the recipe; sometimes I cheat and bulk it out with a few shakes of bottled lemon juice.