As the days grow shorter and the nights cooler, enjoying outdoor summer meals with friends and family become even more precious than usual. Specializing in Indian cuisine, I wanted to stuff my picnic basket with some spicy ethnic flare. Not everything in my basket was authentically Indian, but prepared with love and care, my companions were more than delighted with the healthy and delicious offerings from my magic basket of goodness.
The starring feature of the basket was three variations on hummus. Hummus with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Goat Cheese and Olives and Spicy Red Pepper Hummus and Indian-Style Spicy Hummus. Chopped fresh vegetables and toasted pita triangles are the perfect accompaniment to these dips. Also featured in the basket are some Curried Deviled Eggs, my famous Vegetarian Caesar Salad, potato salad and Paneer Tikka Pizza on Naan Bread. Be sure to pack some muffins or biscuits to please those that wish to satisfy their sweet teeth.
Hummus with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Goat Cheese and Olives
1 cup of dried chickpeas
5 – 6 sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup of pitted black olives, chopped
a few generous scoops of goat cheese
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt
juice from 2 fresh limes
2 – 3 tablespoons of tahini
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 tablespoons of parsley or cilantro, chopped, for garnishing
Soak the chickpeas overnight in enough water to cover. Drain, transfer to a medium saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover and cook until the beans are soft – roughly 1 hour. Drain and set aside.
Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water for 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the soaking liquid.
In a food processor, combine the cooked chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, garlic, salt, lime juice, tahini, goat cheese, cumin, cayenne, sugar, olive oil, 1/4 cup of the reserved liquid from the sun-dried tomatoes and a bit of parsley or cilantro. Puree until you have a thick paste.
Garnish with the remaining parsley or cilantro.
Spicy Hummus, Indian-Style
1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas
1/2 cup fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1-inch piece fresh ginger, chopped
1/4 cup tahini
2 tablespoons almond butter (optional)
juice from 1 lemon
2 fresh green or red chilies, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
pinch of asafetida
1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil (or more to achieve your desired consistency
Rinse the chickpeas and soak for 8 hours or overnight covered in several inches of water with a little yogurt whey or lemon juice added. Drain and rinse, then transfer to a large saucepan. Cover with several inches of fresh water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are buttery soft. Drain.
In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients and process until you have a thick, smooth paste. You may need to add extra olive oil or a bit of water if you want a thinner paste.
Makes approximately 3 cups