Time to take a dip

These highly flavoured dips go perfectly with bread and crisps, and they’re quick to make, writes David Basckin.

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Cannellini – white bean dip
1 can of cannellini beans in brine
2 to 3 cloves of garlic
50ml extra-virgin olive oil
Minimal salt and plenty of coarsely ground black pepper
Juice of one lemon
2 teaspoons ground cumin (jeera)
Optionally chopped red onion and tomato as garnish

(pronounced chummus with a German ch.)
1 can chickpeas
½ cup tahini
(sesame seed paste)
50ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic (maybe 3 …)
A dash of salt to taste plus coarsely ground black pepper on demand
Juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon ground cumin (jeera)
A couple of pinches of ground paprika

These highly flavoured dips go perfectly with bread and crisps, and they’re quick to make. Not only do they add magic to any party, they provide a flavoursome basis to quick lunches or snacks on the go. They taste good, they’re healthy, and from opening the first can to loving the first delicious dip takes only 20 minutes.

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Right, we’re ready to go. Most of the effort in these recipes is foraging for the ingredients. Probably the only mildly exotic number is the tahini. This you can buy at big supermarkets in town or from Asian speciality stores. It keeps well under refrigeration.

If you can’t find tahini, but sesame seeds are easily available, try (this is very hard work) to make your own tahini by grinding 100g sesame seeds to a paste in a mortar and pestle.Millions of Middle Eastern peasant women do this every day. Consider it a serious forearm workout, with muscle and metabolic benefits.

You’ll notice there’s a serious overlap in the ingredients for these two dips. To speed up production, squeeze both lemons and have the pip-free juice standing by in a small jug. Peel the garlic cloves, realising that garlic flavour matures over time.

Since these dips are likely to be finished in one sitting shortly after manufacture, go a little overboard with the garlic for a powerful taste and aroma. Set up the food processor. Starting with the cannellini white bean dip, pour in the drained beans, peeled garlic, salt, pepper, cumin and olive oil. Rev to the red line and reduce the mass to a smooth paste. If its too thick use some liquid from the can, or olive oil.

Adjust the taste with extra salt, cumin, pepper or garlic according to your tongue. Decant into a mixing bowl and add fresh lemon juice a teaspoon at a time, tasting after every addition. Stop when it’s right. Pour into the serving bowl and add the optional garnish of finely chopped tomato and red onion.

The hummus is even easier to make. Pour everything except the lemon juice into the (cleaned) food processor and reduce the contents to a smooth paste. Add the lemon juice a teaspoon at a time as before, tasting every time. Never forget that you can only add lemon juice and can never remove it.

Decant into the serving bowl, add an optional trickle of extra-virgin olive oil plus a pinch or two of cumin and/or paprika. Serve these two dips with fresh bread and the dop or coffee of your choice. – David Basckin

Issue date: 8 April 2011