Thursday 9 February 2012

Tangy Roasted Bell Pepper Hummus

The weather has been pretty great lately and yesterday being a little warmer than most days. To blend in with the lovely weather we had ourselves a real cozy dinner. Besides the usual sabzi, chicken and rotis, I made fresh healthy hummus and roasted veggie and chicken sandwiches.

This was my first time at cooking and tasting hummus and I must say, I loved it. I'm sure many of you have tried and tested recipes for hummus. But today, I have for you my version of hummus made with roasted bell peppers. Hummus is a simple and healthy Arabic style dip.

I did go through a few recipes for guidance on how to make a basic hummus (which is so easy btw) and added my own twist just to add to the flavour. I chose fresh red bell peppers to complement the rich texture of the chickpeas.

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, I just realized are not very easy to photograph!

Actually they are rather boring to photograph. There is no zazzy colour nor do they have an interesting outer texture to them!

However they have a fantastic nutlike taste and are very versatile legumes. They are often found in many Indian and Middle Eastern dishes and can come in the form of falafels, in curries or as dips. While I picked chickpeas that are beige in colour (white kabuli chana), there are varieties that feature black, green, red and brown beans.

Above all chickpeas are fiber All Stars! They are rich in soluble and insoluble dietary fiber and can lower cholestrol.

You'll find more health benefits for chickpeas here.

Selecting and Storing
Chickpeas are available dried in packets or canned. When selecting dried chickpeas make sure that there are no signs of insect damage or moisture and that they are not cracked. You can store dried chickpeas in air tight containers in a cool, dark and dry place which will last for upto 12 months.

Bell Pepper
The roasted bell pepper in the hummus lends it's wonderful aroma and texture to the entire dip, making it wholesome and flavoursome. Bell peppers are not only an excellent source of carotenoids but also rich in vitamins, fiber and other nutrients. They are amazing antioxidants and recent research also suggests that intake of bell peppers can reduce risk for gastric cancer and esophageal cancer. This veggie can be used in a variety of ways, fresh crunchy salads, stuffed with lentils, chicken or other meats etc... to name a few.

Selecting and Storing
While buying bell peppers (be it red, yellow or green), if possible go for the fresh and bright colour because it is in these bright coloured peppers, you will find the true aroma and flavour. Make sure they are free from blemishes, bruises or colouring.

For short-term use, the best way to store bell peppers (to avoid getting rotten fast) is to refrigerate them in the produce drawer of your refrigerator. To ensure good air flow, remove peppers from any plastic bag or container they were purchased in. With proper refrigeration, a healthy bell pepper should last from three to five days in the refrigerator.

Store bell peppers for up to a month by freezing them. Frozen properly, bell peppers should retain good colour and flavour for a month. Wash, core and seed fresh bell peppers to get them ready for freezing. They can be frozen either whole or sliced.

Now over to the recipe.


Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans (dried) - 1 cup
Red Bell Pepper - 1
Garlic (minced or crushed) - 2 cloves
Tahini paste – 2 to 4 tbsp
Fresh Lemon juice – juice from 2 lemons (adjust as per your taste)
Smoked Sweet Paprika (if available) or chilli powder - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Olive Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt - to taste

For Marination

Olive oil – 2 tsp
Cracked pepper – a pinch
Salt – a pinch


Peel and deseed the bell peppers and keep aside. Preheat the oven at 200°celsius. Make the marination mixture by adding olive oil, cracked pepper and salt in a small bowl and whisking well. On a greased baking tray, lay out the prepared bell pepper and pour the marination over the top. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Cover baking tray with aluminium foil and place in oven and roast for about 20 minutes or till veggie is soft and coloured. (take off aluminium foil after 10 minutes in oven and continue to roast uncovered)

In a pan, dry roast the cumin seeds until they are fragrant. Take out and allow to cool. Powder and keep aside.

Blend or puree the chickpeas in a food processor along with roasted bell pepper, powdered cumin seeds, tahini paste, lemon juice, minced or crushed garlic, smoked sweet paprika or chilli powder and salt. Pulse until the mixture just comes together. With the processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil until incorporated and mixture becomes smooth. If you are using a blender, add all the ingredients along with olive oil into it and blend to a fine paste. If the paste is too thick use some of the reserved liquid from the cooked chickpeas. The consistency should not be liquidy and runny but thick and creamy.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. (optional).

Serve with pita bread or pita chips and crudités (refer notes) for dipping.

Notes: Crudite's are raw and lightly blanched vegetables that are frequently served as an accompaniment to dips. A bountiful array crudités makes a colourful addition to a picnic, buffet table or cocktail party.

To prepare crudités, follow the procedure below:

Clean and trim the edges of veggies. (you can use asparagus, carrots, bell peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, cucumber, green or yellow beans) Cut into slim sticks for dipping.

Blanching vegetables for crudités:

Some veggies benefit from a quick immersion in boiling water to soften their texture before serving them as crudités. These include asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and green or yellow beans.

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