2015 Lenten Potluck #4: Mortar & Pestle Hummus

2015-3-19 Traditional Hummus from Scratch
Some people like hummus because of its simplicity: just throw a few ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth. But what if I told you I just spent about 6 hours making one batch of hummus? I don’t actually know exactly how long it took, but this week for the potluck I did hummus completely from scratch – I started with raw ingredients, processed them myself, and mashed everything by hand. I just wanted to see what it feels like. Here’s how it went down.

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I started with 1/2 C raw sesame seeds – I didn’t want to finish and find out I didn’t have enough! You will most likely have a little leftover unless you really love a strong tahini flavor in your hummus.

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Heat them in a dry skillet over low medium heat, stirring frequently to avoid burning.

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After a while, the seeds will become golden brown and fragrant, and begin releasing their natural oil.

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Transfer to the mortar, and get to work crushing and grinding.

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It’s a slow process,

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I have to admit I took a break every so often to let my arm rest!

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But I could see progress being made,

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so I kept going,

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and finally I had a sesame paste!

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Still some whole seeds in there, maybe not the smoothest, but I am pleased, except…it’s a little dry-looking, sorta powdery.

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I added a little water and it made a very thick paste. Hmm. I’ll get back to the tahini later.

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I had already prepared 1 1/2 C dried chickpeas by doing a quick soak, then draining & rinsing, covering with fresh water, and simmering another hour or so. The chickpeas were soft and delicate. Some of them got a little mashed while I peeled off the skins (yes, I recommend doing this, even though it takes a while).

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Now the peeled cooked chickpeas go into the mortar in small batches.

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Mash as well as you can.

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The consistency of the mashed chickpeas was actually similar to that of the sesame seeds.

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Of course you need garlic for your hummus. I thought about mincing it really finely, but since I was already in my groove crushing and grinding,

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into the mortar it went. I did three cloves. You may use more or less according to your preference.

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Freshly-squeezed lemon juice. This is also to taste.

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After adding juice from the first lemon, the ground chickpeas started to look a little more like hummus. I also stirred in a good dose of salt, and then…

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back to that tahini. I added a bit more water until it more closely resembled the store bought stuff I’m used to. Anyway, the thickness of it was similar, but the texture was totally different. Almost gritty, and although it had a sort of sweet aroma the bitterness was way stronger than any tahini I’ve purchased. That made me nervous.

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But I went ahead with my experiment. Add 2 to 3 heaping tablespoons.

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Once again, after I added the tahini it began to look more like hummus. Then I added the juice of a second lemon. Add the garlic and stir really well for a few minutes.

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The texture was so different, I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not.

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I could taste each ingredient individually, but strangely the flavors didn’t seem to come together.

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WHAT IF EVERYONE HATES IT?? But hummus is one of those foods that tastes better after it sits overnight, so I covered it and tucked it in the fridge. Fingers crossed.

Then yesterday at work I started getting really nervous. I ended up whipping up a bean dish when I got home (basically a variation of This), and I also stopped by the movie theater to get my popcorn bucket refilled. I figured if I brought three things, at least one of them had to be good!

2015-3-19 Lenten Potluck Vegan
Once again we had a great spread, and looking at this picture I can see at least three things I didn’t have room to try 🙁 That’s my hummus there front and center, garnished with paprika. I was still too nervous to try it on the first round.

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I was not about to miss out on fresh-from-the-oven soft pretzels, though. For years Super Pretzel was one of my go-to Lenten snacks, but of course homemade is better. And due to my plate being so crowded, some of my salad stuck to the mustard on my pretzel and I decided to just go with it. It was wonderful. Now I understand why pretzel buns are so popular. And now that I think of it, the roasted vegetables were great with those beans & greens.

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On my second round I finally tried my own hummus and beans. The hummus tasted SO much better after chilling overnight!! Most of it was gone by the end of the night. It was a good match with that salad.

On to the other dishes. The chickpeas in tomato sauce had a hint of cinnamon, if I am not mistaken, and the chickpeas were nice and tender. And yet another chickpea dish with tahini, Nadira’s salad with cucumber, fava beans, parsley and sumac. Now, I think you can’t have a Lenten potluck without pasta, we need a few extra carbs for energy this time of year. So that was it, I had the perfect meal.

Recipe Recap
1/2 C raw sesame seeds
1 1/2 C dry chickpeas
2 lemons (or to taste)
3 cloves of garlic (or taste)
salt to taste

Quick soak chickpeas, then drain, cover with fresh water, and cook another hour or so until very tender. Drain and set aside.

Toast sesame seeds in dry skillet over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until seeds are golden brown and fragrant. Place them in the mortar and grind until paste is formed. Scrape paste into a small bowl. Stir in a few tablespoons of water. Set aside.

Peel chickpeas. Mash peeled chickpeas with mortar and pestle in small batches, scraping each batch into a large bowl once it’s as smooth as you can get it. Set aside.

Mash garlic with mortar and pestle. SET ASIDE.

Juice two lemons, and add juice to mashed chickpeas. Stir in two to three heaping tablespoons of tahini, and salt to taste. Add garlic and mix well. You may add a little water to the hummus if it’s not as thin as you like, or just keep adding more lemon juice if that’s your thing!

Chill hummus for several hours before serving. You may want to taste again and adjust seasoning. Garnish simply with a dash or two or paprika and perhaps a sprig of parsley on a strict fasting day. When oil is permitted, drizzle olive oil over the top in the form of a cross before garnishing. Toasted pine nuts or walnuts will also look lovely sprinkled in the center.

If you can do this all in one sitting without interruption, it might be a good time to practice the Jesus Prayer 🙂

0 thoughts on “2015 Lenten Potluck #4: Mortar & Pestle Hummus

  1. Yum!! I’m seriously impressed with the tahini from scratch. And the hummus as a whole, but the sesame seed process seemed especially tedious.
    Also, tell me more about the popcorn bucket! I’m curious if I could do the same 🙂

    • Yeah, I’m not sure how often I’ll be doing it this way, but it was fun to try!
      The bucket is from Celebration Cinema, I think it’s just a local (West Michigan) chain of theaters, but maybe others do it, too. You pay about $37, and for three months you can take the bucket into any location and get a refill up to twice a day, whether or not you see a movie. It’s awesome.

  2. Pingback: Roasted Garlic Hummus | sophisticatedjerseygirl

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