Chickpea Hummus

This hummus recipe comes at the request of my wonderful friend, Rita.
Hummus is one of those superfoods that makes it quite easy to eat vegan, eat healthy, and eat delicious, all at the same time. Combined with pita bread it makes a perfect protein, and the chickpeas (garbanzo beans) have loads of fiber, iron, magnesium and all that good stuff.
I first tasted hummus at my friend Margo’s house- she was born in Lebanon and makes a really great, authentic version that she serves with warm pita bread and lettuce leaves.
My own version is something I’ve arrived at over a period of experimenting with the tastes of my family and friends. Desi, for instance, doesn’t like too much garlic in it, although I do. To those who do not like the strong taste of raw garlic, I’d advise cutting down the garlic to either one or even half a clove. Another way to incorporate the flavor of garlic without the sharpness is to roast it. Simply coat the garlic in a few drops of olive oil, wrap in tinfoil, and roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes. The roasted garlic is wonderfully sweet and mellow and adds a great deal of depth without the pungency.
I also experiment with a variety of beans while making hummus, and have used everything from black beans, which impart an earthily robust taste, to white beans and edamame.
One of the essential ingredients in hummus, which gives it that smooth, creamy flavor, is tahini, or sesame seed paste. While I rarely have tahini sitting around in my pantry, I almost always have sesame seeds which are an essential in Indian cooking. I toast a handful of sesame seeds to a pale golden-brown color on a skillet, and give them a whir in my coffee grinder which I use exclusively to grind spices. I then use this in place of the tahini with the same great results.
Hummus is one of the easiest and quickest recipes to make– it takes almost no time to assemble once you have got the ingredients together, and if you used canned chickpeas there’s no cooking involved either.
How great is that?

Chickpea Hummus

Ingredients:

1 cup dry chickpeas, soaked overnight and then cooked (I use the pressure cooker) until tender. Reserve the cooking liquid. (You can substitute with roughly 2 cups of canned chickpeas, rinsed)
2 tbsp tahini paste or sesame seed powder (read post above for instructions)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chili powder like cayenne or paprika
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

Put all ingredients, except the olive oil in a food processor. Give it a whir, adding some of the cooking liquid if the mixture is too dry. Process until the hummus is smooth and creamy. Add more water if it is too thick.
With the motor running, drizzle the olive oil into the hummus.
Remove to a bowl. Garnish with a few sprinkles of chili powder and olive oil. Serve with warm slivers of pita bread.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Vegan Baklava

Although I’ve never had a particularly sweet tooth, there is one dessert that always makes me feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven. Baklava. This middle eastern treat combines so many luscious flavors and textures within a single bite. The crisp, flaky layers of perfectly baked filo pastry and the crunchy goodness of nuts, all steeped in the gunky, gooey goodness of a delicately flavored sugar syrup…it really is pure bliss!
But here’s the sad truth: most baklava recipes call for a whole cup of butter and that, along with the sugar syrup, nuts (healthy but calorie-dense) and filo pastry, gives a whole new dimension to the term “guilty pleasure.”
Well, one of the great benefits of thinking vegan is, you automatically think healthy. So out went the butter (and good riddance!). In its place, I used canola oil, which, apart from being one of the healthiest cooking fats (even healthier than olive oil, according to some researchers), also has the advantage of being very light and flavor-free, making it perfect for baking. I also ended up using just about 3/4 of a cup, which was an added bonus.
The end result couldn’t have been better– Desi declared it tasted no different from the buttered version, and what’s more, I could enjoy a second and a third piece without feeling a tug at my waistline.
So here’s my blissful Baklava recipe, all vegan and all good. Enjoy!
Vegan Baklava
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Ingredients
  • 1 package filo pastry. Cut sheets in half to fit 9′ X 12′ baking dish.
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans or a mix (pistachios are great in this too)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • ½ tsp cardamom powder
  • For sugar syrup:
  • 2 cups sugar (I used vegan sugar from Whole Foods, but you can use regular sugar or turbinado)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp cloves, powdered
  • ½ tsp cardamom powder
Instructions
  1. Mix the nuts with the sugar, cardamom and cinnamon.
  2. Oil 9′ X 12′ glass baking dish.
  3. Place a sheet of filo pastry at the bottom of the dish. Brush lightly with canola oil.
  4. Place another sheet on top of the first one, brush with oil again. Continue layering and brushing with oil until you have gone through about one-third of the pastry sheets. Then spread half the nut mixture on the top sheet. (A package of filo pastry typically yields 40-46 9′ X 12′ sheets, so you will have around 13-15 sheets in each layer.)
  5. Continue layering the next 15 sheets, sprinkling the top sheet again with remaining nuts.
  6. Finish layering all the sheets and brush the top sheet thoroughly with oil.
  7. With a sharp knife, cut the bakhlava into diamond-shaped pieces, taking care not to cut through the bottom-most layer.
  8. Bake in a 350-degree oven for one hour until top turns lightly brown and edges are crisp. Leave on a rack to cool.
  9. For syrup, bring the sugar, water, cardamom, cinnamon and lemon juice to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for another 20 minutes. Pour hot syrup over the cooled baklava.
  10. Allow the baklava to cool thoroughly before cutting into individual pieces and serving.
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If you love Baklava, you are already primed to love Indian sweets which also tend to be nutty and very sweet. Check out some vegan versions of my Indian sweet recipes, like Almond Halwa and Carrot Halwa.
(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.