Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi's Basic Hummus

July 10, 2013

Every week -- often with your help -- Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: Perfectly smooth DIY hummus in a fraction of the time -- thanks to a simple, brilliant trick.

Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi's Basic Hummus from Food52

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You will go to picnics and barbecues this summer, and there will be that person who brings the laziest contribution this side of a bag of Doritos: the store-bought tub of hummus. Maybe a sack of wet baby carrots to go with.

And you won't judge them, because you're nice.

Tubbed hummus has become that friendly convenience food that everyone accepts -- it's the new, improved French onion dip. It's so popular, it even comes in guacamole flavor. (Now you can start judging.)

But that stuff in the tubs -- as healthy and quick and easy as it may be -- is never going to be as good as the real thing. The real thing is rich and sultry and alive. It is tumbling over with nutty tahini and pricks of lemon and garlic and salt. It tugs at you so hard you want to drink it, not pop it open as a sensible snack.

I have the real thing for you. And it's a hell of a lot easier to make -- and faster -- than you'd think.

There are a few camps in DIY hummusry: from the people content to grind up a can of chickpeas, rustic-like, to those who methodically peel each chickpea for optimum smoothness.

But there is a growing consensus about one recipe: Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's, from their beautiful book Jerusalem.


More: Another genius Ottolenghi move? Making polenta out of sweet summer corn.

As Food52er ejm wrote to me, "Besides being amazingly simple, it accomplishes the holy grail of smooth silky hummus without the craziness that is peeling the chickpeas." From Kristen Earle, "It's the lightest, creamiest, richest hummus I've ever been able to conjure. I'll never eat store-bought hummus again."

So it's simple and the results are perfect, but here's the real coup: Most from-scratch hummus recipes involve simmering the chickpeas for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Ottolenghi and Tamimi's are done in 20 to 40 minutes. How?

Plenty of hummus recipes (even earlier versions from Ottolenghi himself) call for soaking or simmering the chickpeas with a little baking soda shaken into the water. Hervé This explains why in Molecular Gastronomy -- it's all about pH: alkaline environments soften legumes more quickly by weakening their pectic bonds, while acidic environments keep them stubbornly hard. This is why you never want to simmer beans with vinegar.

Chickpeas from Food52

The version in Jerusalem does them one better: after soaking, the drained chickpeas are sautéed with baking soda for a few minutes, before dumping in the water to simmer the chickpeas -- a technique learned from Tamimi's grandmother.

"We chose Sami's grandmother's way because we believe the friction helps the breaking down of the skins and gets the baking soda to penetrate the skin better," Ottolenghi told me. This brief, direct contact allows them to cook much faster and puree smoother. Without peeling.


A couple final clever tricks seal the deal: you'll blend in ice water at the end to help lighten up the emulsion. And you'll rest the hummus for 30 minutes, to let the flavors and textures settle in. And then you'll pour olive oil all over it and scoop it up with torn bread in heavy, spilt-over measures.


Now just imagine what will happen when you're that person who brings this to the barbecue.

Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi's Basic Hummus from Food52

Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi's Basic Hummus

From Jerusalem (Ten Speed Press, 2013)

Makes 6 servings

1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 1/2 cups water
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons tahini (light roast)
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, crushed
6 1/2 tablespoons ice cold water

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

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Photos by James Ransom, except Ottolenghi and Tamimi by Wes Rowe via Serious Eats

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Averil Strom
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I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Averil S. January 16, 2015
I always start off with ground sesame seed and a bit of coarse salt, then tahini, chick peas, garlic and lemon and bob's your uncle!
PastryGal September 10, 2014
I enjoy hummus when it's thick and creamy, and tastes like chickpeas. This recipe tasted like tahini, and that taste in my hummus is disappointing.
Lia M. September 10, 2014
I make this hummus all the time and it is amazing!
bryan March 11, 2014
I put the hummus in the fridge and it lost all that smoothness, any suggestions on why it became so firm?
Maureen A. March 11, 2014
Bryan, this is typical of hummus. Just bring it to room temperature and stir it briskly, adding a touch of lemon juice or water if needed, and you'll be back to your smooth lusciousness once again!
Alex T. March 11, 2014
It is the nature of any beans , it is not only hummus.Hummus re-absorb the liquid from its surrounding, and the tahini as an oil will harden a little too in the fridge.Bon Chance.
frank February 3, 2014
The recipe worked as advertised. Peas cooked in about 40 minutes and the hummus was smooth as silk. But it was too much tahini for my taste. Somewhat overpowering. Extra lemon juice helped some. The can I bought did not designate if it was “light roast” or not, but it was all I could find. I think next time I will cut the tahini at least by half, and increase the lemon, garlic, and salt. This will be a winner, just need to tweak it to my liking.
It makes a lot though. Can hummus be frozen?
Alex T. February 1, 2014
I think people use a lot of tahini with the humus,for example a couple table spoons of tahini for a can of chickpeas will be sufficient.
liz December 8, 2013
We have been making hummus once a week, alternating between this recipe and Ottolenghi's different hummus recipe in Plenty. We had reservations about the amount of tahini, and we have to cook the chickpeas for longer than the recipe indicates, but the hummus is AMAZING.
Neomi November 6, 2013
I also wonder about the quantity of Techina in this recipe. Could it be that it's referring to "prepared" Tehina (mixed with lemon, water, garlic etc?) vs. the paste?
lorie B. October 16, 2013
This was last weekends "new" recipe. I found a lot of the skins popped off to the top of the boiling water which I skimmed off. I did mix the tahini with lemon juice and water before adding it to the chickpeas, as I had previously made cold noodles that had this trick. The tahini will thicken with the water/juice before it smooths out again and lightens to resemble thick cream. Do not be put off by the amount of liquid you need to add to the tahini. I also put a drizzle of truffle oil, toasted pine nuts and a sprinkle of smoked paprika on top when I served it. The "topping" all disappeared (uf dah!). Added to scrambled eggs yesterday. Heaven!
Nadia H. August 23, 2013
Jerusalem is a fabulous cookbook but the hummus recipe is one I find off. Why add so much tahini? I have made hummus from scratch for years using 1/3 cup tahini to 1 cup chickpeas (dried) and it is very smooth
I_Fortuna August 19, 2013
Thanks ALexTXN for the tip. I will try this next time I puree my beans. I got very frustrated and felt like I wasted money on this contraption but your advice is appreciated.
Viola August 18, 2013
This web site has been revelation for me :)
I wanted to ask, since I live ina country which is gastronomically quite poor, I wanted to ask is there a way of making tahini by yourself? I know it a sesame pasta, but does anything else go in it? Thank you in advamce and keep up the great work!
Sophia H. August 18, 2013
Tahini is basically sesame seeds ground to a fine paste with extra mild flavored oil. Doing it at home will not give you super smooth kind but it will be probably even better flavor than many store bought, and you can experiment with raw versus toasted seeds.
I_Fortuna August 9, 2013
For those who want to skin their beans, and I have skins thousands, here is how I do it. 1-wash the dry beans 2-boil water 3-pour boiling water over beans to cover 4-leave covered with a clean kitchen towel on the counter overnight. In the morning some skins will come away from the beans. 5-Pour soaking water off and rinse the beans. 6-Boil the beans until tender. Here is how the skin is removed: 7-When the beans have cooled, I use a terry type kitchen towel and put a cup or so in the middle of the towel. I fold over all sides to the center to make a package. 8-I then roll the towel with my palms as if I am kneading the beans like bread, rolling it back and forth hard on my dining table. I do this to all the beans. 9-Then I put the beans in a bowl of water and many of the skins with float to the top. Some beans will have to be pinched between my thumb and forefinger to release the skin. This can take awhile.
Why do I do this? Because the skins of all beans and most seeds, nuts and veggies contain phytic acid. Phytic acid binds calcium, iron and other minerals to it prohibiting the body from absobing these minerals. Soaking, cooking and peeling rids the beans of a lot of phytic acid. On the other hand phytic acid and the skins slow digestion which is helpful to diabetics as I have read. It has other benefits you can find online. Skinned beans make for a smoother more delicious hummus and soy "milk".
Pascale P. August 9, 2013
I made this hummus last week- delicious but SO THICK! I used an entire bag of beans and an entire jar of Tahini (which, in my opinion, just adds calories). It was bland so I kept adding garlic and lemon. When finished it was warm, delicous and very loose. However, the next morning, it was super firm. Still delicious though.
I also used the baking soda and though there was constant foam that had to be skimmed, not ONE peel came off the beans!
Will try again, but I think that canned garbanzos would be great as well, or Trader Joe Mediteranian Hummus!
DebraCR August 7, 2013
We have incredible results cooking chick peas in a pressure cooker at our cafe. Very fast, no soaking , no baking soda. I agree with Sara I have to add toasted cumin to mine.
Jacqueline O. July 21, 2013
I made this today for a pot luck... I confess I was really busy and didn't have time to go and buy dried chick peas. Used two cans and it turned out delicious. I will make it again from scratch for sure
Sara July 21, 2013
Hummus YUM!
I have to add cumin though or I will die by gases! LOL
Ambrose July 20, 2013
I am making this now - one quibble. Why publish a recipe that calls for 1-1/4 cups of chick peas when no one sells that size. I have to but a standard 2 cup bag and throw some out.
emcsull July 21, 2013
seriously ? Can you not just keep them and buy another bag and then make three lots ? Or cook them anyhow and freeze them and throw them in soup ?
Ambrose July 21, 2013
Yes of course emcsull, that is what we will do. I can report that this came out excellent on our first try. Greta recipe!
Jessica C. July 17, 2013
So this looks amazing but I am a little confused. Do you soak the beans overnight or use the canned beans then sautee with baking soda then simmer in water? How long would you simmer in water for?
Kristen M. July 17, 2013
No cans here! You soak the dried chickpeas overnight, then proceed with the rest of the recipe:
Aly July 17, 2013
We have tried dozens of different Hummus recipes and this is one of the smoothest that we have made and the most popular. We took this to a party and everyone thought we bought it from an authentic restaurant downtown. If that was not the best compliment, I don't know what would have been!