Hummus, Two (Colourful) Ways


I’ve been reading a lot lately. There’s something about the temperature dropping down a notch outside that makes you want to move inside with a good book. While most people probably snuggle up on the couch with a good novel, I’ve been curling up with cookbooks. This isn’t abnormal behaviour in my family, I might add, however the rate that I’ve been reading them could be. My absolute favourite at the moment is Louisa Shafia’s The New Persian Kitchen, which has had me seriously thinking about whether it would be possible to fly home from Europe later this year via Iran (sadly, no). I’ve been dreaming of brightly coloured, intoxicatingly fragranced gardens and fresh pomegranates by the bucket. I even bought a bag of limes at the farmers market last Saturday in the hope that they would somehow bring the aroma and romance of Persian cuisine into our weekday dinners. They certainly helped make our persian feast a little more exciting, but now they’re just sitting there making me feel guilty every time I walk past.

What this new obsession fascination has done though is highlight some intruiging new ingredients for me. It’s given me a little more confidence to play with the balance of sweet and sour in hearty, savoury dishes, as well as cooking with fruits more often – especially in dishes where you wouldn’t always expect it.



A second book that I’m in the middle of is Taste What You’re Missing, which basically deconstructs the enitre experience of “tasting” and explains not only how we taste physiologically, but also the different tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami) and how they interact with each other. It’s an awesome read, especially if eating is your thing, because you’ll find yourself looking at the food you eat and experiencing it in a fresh new way. As a result of this brand new insight – five chapters in and I’m already an expert, by the way – I’ve turned my Persian-esque ingredient craze into something that I can understand. All these flavours that seem to work so harmoniously actually do so because of the tastes they provide! In honour of this new discovery (I am truly a changed man, I’ll have you know) what better than to apply these principles to my favourite pastime: eating hummus!

Whether you spell it hummus, humus (technically that’s decomposed organic matter, yum) or houmous, we can all agree that the gods were truly shining upon the world when they brought this great food into existence. As an ethereally silken spread on crackers, thinned to make a light dressing or spread thick in a tomato and basil sandwich, there is no doubt that hummus has a special place in all of our hearts.


With a newfound sense of epicurean adventure* I set out to make some middle eastern magic, with a few not-so-middle-eastern ingredients thrown in for good measure. The beautiful thing about hummus lies in its versatility. Over the last year I’ve thrown a whole host of strange ingredients into the blender with my chickpeas, yet miraculously they always seem to work out.

*10 bonus points to me for using epicurean in a sentence.

I thought long and hard about what combinations would work with the hummus but I finally settled on these: roasted sweet potato and carrot, and balsamic beetroot + rose. I chopped a large carrot and orange sweet potato into chunks that would cook at the same time and slow roassted them in a little coconut oil until they were golden, crisp around the edges and soft all the way through. These were paired with nothing much more than garlic, a good sqeeze of lemon, some palm sugar for sweetness and a little olive oil, before they were blitzed into smooth oblivion. This is a delicious twist on your everyday hummus that’s not too fancy to be spread thick on rye bread and used as comfort food – my Mum’s favourite.

I tossed the beetroot in a generous splashing of balsamic vinegar, using much more than I needed because it would reduce dramatically in the oven, and then roasted that at the same time as the sweet potato with a grind of black pepper and a pinch of salt. In a fate much the same as its orange counterpart, it was blended until smooth with a few more mysterious ingredients. I added another good glugg of balsamic vinegar for acidity and honey for sweetness, because I wanted the sweet-sour duet to sing, and added a touch of rosewater for a Persian lift. The rosewater brings a gentle, floral scent to the mix allowing you to experience the hummus through smell lomg before you taste it. Much like Western foods use vanilla to heighten and flavour just about anything, Iranians could be said doing the same with rosewater. I was surprised how it affected the taste too, because while I experienced rose while eating it, it was all through smell and hardly through the physical “taste”. What I did taste though, was a brightness and clarity that the balsamic vinegar couldn’t have brought alone. A combination that will be tried and experimented with more often in this house? I think so.



Here are my two newest ways to spice life up using a few exotic, and quite a few familiar, ingredients.


1 large or two medium beetroot, peeled
2 generous tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon coconut or other cooking oil

1 can chickpeas, or 1 and 1/3 cups cooked
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon of honey (maple syrup or agave, for vegan option)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon rosewater
sea salt
black pepper
optional: 1-2 drops of Angostura bitters, or other aromatic bitters

Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Cut beetroot into small pieces, no bigger than half an inch thick, toss with balsamic vinegar and oil then place in the oven. Roast for 30-40 minutes, tossing halfway through. They are done when a knife can be easily poked into them.

In your blender jug or food processor place all ingredients, including the beetroot, and blend. You’re aiming for just short of a silky consistency and you might have to add a tablespoon of water here and there to loosen it and keep it soft (I added half a cup in the end). Once smooth add a touch more water than you think you need and fold it through, as hummus always tends to thicken as it sits.

Makes about 1 and 1/2 cups.


1 large orange sweet potato, peeled
1 large carrot, peeled
1 teaspoon coconut or other cooking oil

1 can chickpeas, or 1 and 1/3 cups cooked
1 clove of garlic
juice of half a lemon
1 rounded teaspoon of palm sugar or maple syrup
sea salt
black pepper

Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Cut carrot into 1cm dice and sweet potato into at least 2cm cubes. Toss with oil and roast for about 30 minutes, tossing once, or until the carrots are soft.

In your blender jug or food processor place all ingredients and blend. You’ll likely have to keep adding a tablespoon of water until it reaches a silky smooth puree (the sweet potato and chickpeas release starch as you blend which in turn absorbs water and thickens the mixture). Season to taste and add a touch more water, folding it through, so it remains smooth.

Makes just over 2 cups.


Both keep for about 5 days in the fridge, though they never see more than three in my house. Enjoy!


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3 thoughts on “Hummus, Two (Colourful) Ways”

  1. I LOVE that beet hummus! Beet everything for me 🙂 glad I found you through the comment on my page. I will add you to my bloglovin’ roll so i can keep up with what you’re making!


    1. Beetroot is on constant rotation in this household, especially when I can pick up huge bunches for next to nothing at the markets! Thank you, Micheline, I’m glad you like it 🙂

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