They’re not called Bloke Peas for a good reason. Chickpeas are puffed with feline-friendly compounds.
There’s magnesium, a mineral many of us crave once a month when we become a crazed version of a slightly-less-bonkers self. Magnesium has the magnificent ability to relieve cramps by helping our blood vessels relax. Good news for headaches and varicose veins too.
Then there’s isoflavones, a plant-based phyto-oestrogen considered among some as ammunition in the fight against breast cancer. It looks like our body converts isoflavones into compounds that mimic some of the effects of oestrogen.
Why is this important?
The female reproductive system is influenced by oestrogen. Studies on the specific benefits of plant-based phyto-oestrogens have yielded mixed results, but they seem to have some correlation to reduced risk of hormonal cancers, and may even play a role in bone density.
Phyto-oestrogens have already been used to improve menopausal symptoms. Some women prefer to take phyto-oestrogens than opt for Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). I do like the idea of being prescribed hummus for hot flushes!
If you haven’t cooked chickpeas from scratch, you are missing out on one of the creamiest beans on Earth. Tinned chickpeas are fine, but hardly make me breakdance. Try this hummus recipe, and make MC Hammer proud.
The Very Best Hummus Recipe
Yotam Ottolenghi is the High Priest of hummus. We have an alter in our fridge built for his recipe, and dip into it all week. Even fussy toddlers struggle to resist its charms.
1 & ¼ cup / 250g dried chickpeas
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
up to 1 cup / 240g tahini sesame paste
2-4 tablespoons lemon juice
2-4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
100ml ice cold water
Start the night before, by rinsing the chickpeas and soaking them in 2 cups of cold water.
The next day, drain the chickpeas. Tumble them into a medium saucepan, crank up the heat, and add the bicarbonate of soda. Cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly.
Add 1.5 litres of fresh water and bring to a rolling boil. Using a slotted spoon, skim off any foam that floats to the surface during the first few minutes. The chickpeas can cook anywhere between 20 and 40 minutes, depending on their size and type. Once done, they should be very tender, breaking up easily when pressed between your thumb and finger. Almost, but not quite, mushy.
Drain the chickpeas and transfer to a food processor bowl. You could also use a hand-held blender. Whiz the chickpeas into a stiff paste with the tahini, lemon, garlic and sea salt. With the motor still running, drizzle in the iced water and allow it to mix until you get a very smooth paste.
Chef recommends transferring the hummus to a cling-wrapped bowl and leaving it to rest for at least 30 minutes. But I found this step difficult. I think you will too.
Stamp your signature on it. We used blue cornflowers and chives in our photo today. Swirl some glossy olive oil on top, or sprinkle with pomegranate seeds? Perhaps date syrup and fresh coriander? Dried paprika and chilli flakes? Over to you …