I happened to be thumbing through Suvir Saran's new book American Masala the next day (many thanks to the publishers for sending me a review copy), and lo and behold, came upon a recipe for toasted garlic hummus. I took it as a sign, and ended up making the hummus last night for dinner.
This is a very interesting cookbook- rather than focusing on one region, one course or one genre, it embraces the multifaceted nature of us home cooks. Like curious magpies hoarding shiny objects, cooking enthusiasts seem to collect recipes as they go along in their culinary lives. No matter what food we grew up eating and what cuisine we normally cook, our repertoire evolves into a unique collection that tells the story of our life- whom we met, where we have travelled, what tastes we lean towards. One recipe may be the hallmark of a local festival that we have started to celebrate; another may be learnt years ago from Grandma. Yet another may be from some out-of-print cookbook that we found at a garage sale. Well, this cookbook is essentially like taking a peek into Saran's personal recipe file- except that, instead of yellowing lined notepaper with ball-point scribblings (I only imagine his notebook looks like this because mine does!), it is a lush cookbook with vibrant photographs in jewel tones. This tendency of developing a wildly assorted recipe collection is especially true of those of us who live in foreign lands, and especially true of the US where so many cultures live and eat together. A single chapter in Saran's cookbook has dishes ranging from enchiladas to lasagna, from paella to biryani. Isn't this just the crazy way many of us eat today? Many of the dishes reminded me of the same things that so many bloggers tend to do: take a dish, apply a unique twist and make it your own. In this cookbook, for instance, I came across unusual flavor pairings such as cardamom-roasted cauliflower and chocolate-hazelnut torte with ginger, cloves and cayenne. The book has both vegetarian and meat-seafood dishes, everything from breakfast to desserts.
Coming back to the hummus: it is commonly made with canned chickpeas. In my hands, that does not work so well for some reason and I feel like the resulting hummus tastes "pasty" and "raw". This time, I soaked the chickpeas and pressure-cooked them, with much better results. I used way more (1 whole head) roasted garlic than what Saran suggested (2 cloves). Roasted garlic has a mellow flavor and I like using it generously. Also, he suggests using a broiler to toast the garlic- and I just used my toaster oven. The combination of toasted cumin and roasted garlic is so delicious here.
Roasted Garlic Hummus
1. Roast 1 head of garlic until the cloves are soft (see methods here and here). Peel the skin off.
2. In a food processor bowl fitted with the metal blade, place 2 C chickpeas (preferably home-cooked, but canned should work too), 2 heaped T tahini (sesame seed paste), 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, peeled roasted garlic, 1 t toasted cumin seeds, red chilli flakes to taste, and salt and pepper to taste.
3. Process, adding a little water if required, to a smooth paste. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice if required. Serve with olives (I bought some delicious marinated olives from the olive bar at Whole Foods) and wedges of toasted pitas.
I wanted a hearty main course to go with this hummus platter, and decided to try a recipe that had been long book-marked: Potato Kibbeh from Vegan Feast Kitchen. The post gives a lot of interesting information about kibbeh- delicious morsels of potato and bulgur wheat. The recipe is easy easy- olive oil and sliced onions layered in a baking pan, a mashed potato-soaked bulgur (uncooked)-cinnamon-herb mixture layered on top, drizzled with more olive oil and baked until golden. Cinnamom gives a unique aroma to this dish, for sure.
I halved the recipe but loved it so much that I will definitely be making it again, especially when I have hungry hordes to feed! I used coarse bulgur because that was what I had on hand- but will look for a fine one next time I make this. I was also a big bore, as usual, and reduced the oil in the recipe, but it was delicious anyway. To serve with the baked kibbeh squares, I made an impromptu tzatziki-inspired sauce with yogurt, minced garlic, minced cucumber, cilantro and salt, and the combination was delicious.
P. S. You know that fall/winter is here when my food photos take a nosedive :D When supper-time rolls along, it is already dark outside and I have to take pictures in artificial light. Hence that awful yellow glow on the pictures. I need to learn how to take pictures in artificial light. Have a great week, everyone!