“A good upbringing means not that you won’t spill sauce on the tablecloth, but that you won’t notice it when someone else does.”* — Anton Chekhov
*Excellent for me as I’m a clumsy eater.
The following four simple dips recipes can also be used in place of dressing on a salad (use about a tablespoon). For dips, slice carrots, cucumbers and bell peppers/capsicum into strips as an appetiser.
I love hummus. When I first switched to eating this way, I had hummus daily on my salad. When I eat bread, I layer this on thick and add sliced tomatoes, chilli flakes, and a sprinkling of seeds.
Store-bought hummus never tastes as good as homemade. My cousin gave me this recipe from her aunt (who is Turkish), which I adapted to suit my tastes.
Oil-Free Hummus Recipe
- 1.5 cups of boiled chickpeas – either soaked overnight and then boiled until tender; or 1 can, drained, but save the water.
- 1 tablespoon pure tahini (ground sesame paste; crushing the seeds releases their oil, so there’s no need for a separate preservative)
- about 2 tablespoons of the chickpea water or plain water
- juice of 1 lemon
- ½ teaspoon rock or sea salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon of ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon of ground chilli powder (optional)
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
• Throw the chickpeas into a blender and pulse.
• Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse again until the texture is creamy.
• Transfer to a glass container. It will keep for about a week.
The recipe normally includes garlic. I love garlic but I also like having a social life (the smell comes out in the breath and sweat) so I prefer mine without. Traditionally, hummus is made with olive oil, both in the mix and after as a swirl of garnish. I prefer to make mine without oil (except that which comes naturally in the tahini).
Travel (or Lazy) Hummus Version
No blender? No fear! Follow the above instructions but instead of using a blender or food processor, just use a fork and manually mash everything in a large bowl. It doesn’t get smooth but it’s just as delicious. It’s super quick, with nothing complicated to clean afterwards.
Jamie Oliver makes a spicy bowl+fork version using dried red chillies, which does away with the tahini too. Another one good for travelling.
To make another popular Middle Eastern dip, baba ganoush: replace the chickpeas with eggplant/aubergine: 1 medium, either roasted, or seared on top of a stove until the insides are soft and mushy. Follow the rest of the above recipe.
Simple Semi Guacamole Recipe
- 1 avocado, ripe (has a slight give when skin is pressed)
- juice of ½ lime
- pinch of rock or sea salt or chilli flakes
• Slice the avocado, remove the skin and stone.
• Mash with a fork until creamy.
• Add lime juice and salt (or chilli flakes, if omitting salt).
• Mash again.
This version omits the other common ingredients for guacamole: ½ finely chopped onion, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 chopped fresh green chilli and a handful of coriander/cilantro leaves finely chopped. Mainly because I’m lazy and can’t tolerate onions, but I found that distilling the recipe to its basics also works fine.
Best eaten fresh as the avocado goes a bit sad and brown when kept for later (though the lime juice helps it from oxidising too much).
Chilli Peanut Dip Recipe
This recipe is from The Health Awareness Centre.
To make fresh tamarind juice: put a handful of tamarind in a bowl and add water. Let it soak for half an hour. Squeeze and strain. The water keeps in the fridge for a week, but I usually make whatever I need each time. Alternatively, water down tamarind paste from a jar until it’s a watery pourable consistency.
- 2 cups raw unsalted peanuts
- ¾ cup tamarind juice
- 1 heaped teaspoon red chilli powder (or to taste)
- ¼ tsp rock or sea salt (optional)
• Roast the peanuts. As I don’t have an oven, I “dry fry” them stovetop in a pan until they turn dark and make popping sounds.
• After they cool, grind them to a powder in a blender.
• Put them in a bowl and add the red chilli powder (and salt, if adding).
• Add the tamarind juice until the consistency is good for dipping (similar to pureed commercial salsa).
You can mix all of it in the blender but I prefer to grind only the peanuts in it, then mix the rest by hand.
Quick Salsa Recipe
- 4 firm medium tomatoes, finely cubed
- large handful fresh coriander/cilantro, finely chopped
- ½-1 fresh garlic, minced
- ½ small onion (I react badly to it, so I use the green stalks from 2 spring onions instead), finely chopped
- 1 fresh green chilli, finely chopped (optional)
- ¼ tsp rock or sea salt (optional)
- juice from 1 lime
• Simply chop and mix well.
• What really makes this pop is being generous with the coriander/cilantro.
• Refrigerate for an hour before serving. Should keep in the fridge for a week, though mine is long gone by then.
“I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” — Hannibal Lector
The latest from Alexander McCall Smith’s delightful Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency series is The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Café. It’s as delicious (so to speak) as the rest – morality tales mixed with solving mysteries. This one involves an excellent meal.
After living on what even I would call plain food, two sisters in 19th century Denmark allow their French refugee housekeeper to cook them a grand meal when she wins some money. Food, we learn, can be transforming. Watch Babette’s Feast, directed by Gabriel Axel.
Religion, food and betrayal: The Last Supper has it all. Leonardo da Vinci painted this fresco on the dining hall wall of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. (A bit ominous for diners, surely, given the title and subject matter.) Love that conspiracy theories about a painting (regarding wine, women and other puzzles) still persist today, more than 500 years after it was completed.