#ThatTranslatorCanCook Week Eighteen: Hummus

This week, I delved into a Middle Eastern speciality and made one of my favourite snacks: hummus!

Translation

Hummus?

Did you know that the word حمص actually just translates to chickpeas in English? This is probably why this particular recipe specifies ‘hummus/chickpeas with tahini in the Lebanese style’. However, I would always translate (or transliterate) the dish as hummus, because it is a fairly common occurrence in English.

A Hummus Anecdote

To go off on a little tangent, if you live in the U.K., you might have noticed that you can buy ‘Moroccan style hummus’. This never bothered me until I lived in Morocco for eight months and discovered hummus is most definitely not a Moroccan dish! In the time I lived in Morocco, I only ever ate hummus if I went to a Syrian or Lebanese restaurant. I guess it’s interesting and/or sad that we in the West lump together all Middle Eastern cultures without realising how varied they are. Also, ‘Moroccan’ hummus is often a little spicy – also hilarious when you consider that most Moroccan cooking involves very little spice in terms of heat (although is often heavily spiced with cumin, coriander and paprika) and when a Moroccan friend of mine visited England and went to an Indian restaurant, he found Korma too spicy!

One last point on hummus: dried or tinned?

The recipe just stated حمص in the list of ingredients and, in Britain at least, I think most people would associate chickpeas with the kind they find in a tin. However it then specified had the chickpeas should be soaked overnight, leading me to believe that they were probably dried, so I amended the ingredients list to reflect that.

Cooking

I know I say this practically every week, but this recipe was super easy, if somewhat time-consuming. This is because there was very little actual cooking involved, but the chickpeas required soaking overnight and then cooking for an hour.

Once I had boiled the chickpeas, all I had to do was whack them in a blender with the rest of the ingredients (garlic, tahini, salt and lemon juice). I’m not entirely sure I got the amounts right – the recipe called for 1.5 cups (thankfully my sister got me cup measures for my birthday, because we in Britain are not familiar with this) of dried chickpeas, but after boiling this yielded a huge amount of hummus that didn’t taste very strongly of tahini or lemon juice and that was very thick. I think maybe I was supposed to measure them once they cooked?

Also, this is probably just an issue for me due to the limitations of my kitchen, but our blender couldn’t cope with that volume of chickpeas and in the end I had to get out my hand blender and whisk the mixture and even though I did this until my arm ached, there were still chunks left!

The end result was very tasty, although like I said, a bit thick, so it could probably do with a little more oil/lemon juice/tahini. And it made enough to last me for weeks!

Next week I’m not sure what I’ll be cooking. Also I have a very booked week of work so may take the week off, but will definitely be back the following week with something tasty!

Published by verityroat

Verity Roat BA CANTAB MA TRANSLATION CIOL Career Associate is a Norfolk-based Arabic and French > English translator and languages tutor.

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