Agriculture, that most noble of the sciences, came to life in the Middle East. One of the first crops was chickpeas, which means that hummus has a long history. Here is a 21st century update of this magnificent food, made with tahini and a food processor.

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To make just one of the untold zillions of versions of hummus, you will need:

  • 250g chickpeas
  • Juice of two (or three) lemons
  • 75ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of tahini, also known as sesame seed paste
  • Black pepper and salt for seasoning
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • Pinch of paprika

We start with the chickpeas. These can be bought canned in brine or fresh. In my view, the fresh version provides better hummus. But the canned version is much quicker to prepare. You decide. Assuming that you’ve chosen uncanned chickpeas, begin by checking carefully through the amount you have weighed. Occasionally, small molar-destroying pebbles can be found in the mix. Discard them. Soak the pebble-free chickpeas in cold water overnight. The next day, your mind is hellbent on hummus. Boil the soaked chickpeas in fresh water for an hour until they are soft.

Drain and reserve the softened ones. Crush and peel the garlic. Squeeze the lemons and reserve the juice free of pips. In a spice grinder, or more traditionally a mortar with a pestle, grind the cumin seeds to dust. Food processor time. Reserve a tablespoon of whole softened chickpeas and keep this to one side for later in the proceedings. Tip the remainder of the chickpeas, the peeled garlic and freshly ground cumin seeds into the processor.

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Blitz, as Nigella, Heston, Gordon and now David would say, for two seconds, then add half the lemon juice and about 25ml of olive oil. Carry on blitzing for 15 to 20 seconds. Taste, then season with salt and a little freshly ground black pepper. Add the remainder of the olive oil plus the sesame seed paste, also known as tahini, and the second half of the lemon juice.
Give the mix another blitz for approximately 10 seconds and then decide whether you want the hummus chunky or not – use your judgement to determine the final texture.

Chill this ancient invention in the fridge. Serve cold, with the remaining whole softened chickpeas sprinkled over the surface.
A pinch of paprika adds colour to the presentation. Eat hummus with brown bread or pita, freshly-sliced tomatoes and depipped olives. A few judiciously arranged capers impart a nuance to the flavour.

Enjoy with a chilled lager or black coffee.