Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Hummus with pomegranate molasses

About a year ago, a strange thing happened to me on my way to work; my 70-minutes-each-way, hang-off-a-strap train commute to work: someone offered me a seat! And not just any someone, but a fellow non-Japanese someone. Normally, the chances of this happening are only slightly better than winning the lottery, but to find out that the someone in question was not only from Iran, but also a fellow foodie, well, it's probably not even worth calculating odds anymore.

S and his dear wife and daughter visited us last November, laden with all kinds of Iranian and Japanese goodies (including the most amazing macrobiotic apple crumble cake, which I then made for another Iranian-Japanese family we visited this Persian New Year. Recipe for that coming soon). I finally got to return the compliment on a glorious spring day this month.

This was just the excuse I was waiting for to try this mouth-watering hummus idea from Classic Vegetarian Cooking from the Middle East & North Africa. It must seem like this is the only book I cook from these days, but the appetiser section is just so good I want to try them all!

You may know hummus in its most well known form of chickpeas and tahini. But "hummus" simply means "chickpeas" in Arabic, and there are many other possible variations, as Mr Salloum's book above attests.

Pomegranates are one of my very favourite fruits, so I was itching to try this pomegranate-laced version for the longest time. And it was just as good as I imagined! I did tweak the recipe a little, however, using dried chickpeas instead of tinned, and sharpening it up with lemon juice, as the Lebanese pomegranate molasses I used gave the hummus a sweeter taste than I wanted.

The pomegranate seeds you see in the photo are from a little stash I froze in an inspired fit of organization during their short season here. They added just the right festive touch on top of the hummus, but did, unfortunately, loose some of their juice on defrosting.

Hummus with pomegranate molasses

300 g cooked chickpeas*
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp salt**
1/4 tsp pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
chopped flat-flat leaf parsley, to garnish
pomegranate seeds, to garnish

1 Place chickpeas, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

2 Spread on a serving dish and garnish with parsley and pomegranate seeds. Sprinkle with remaining oil just before serving.

* If you are going to the trouble of cooking chickpeas from dried, do yourself a favour and make more than you need for this recipe and freeze the remainder for later. Rinse chickpeas and soak overnight. Drain. If using a pressure cooker, cover with water and the metal inner lid to prevent the peas moving around too much in cooking. Bring to pressure, lower heat and cook for 2.5 min under low pressure. If you don't have a pressure cooker, cover with water and simmer until tender, which can take anything up to 90 min, I am told. You'll probably need to top up the water if cooking for so long.

** If you use tinned chickpeas instead of dried, reduce or eliminate the salt from the recipe.