Tag Archives: #pulses

Red kidney beans break out


As the International Year of Pulses draws slowly to its close, pause to marvel at the humble kidney bean.

Red kidney beans contain more antioxidants than glamorous blueberries or pomegranate juice.

Kidney beans.

Go, you crazy little red-headed, kidney-shaped whack jobs!

(Chickpeasnot far behind. What pulses!)


Cahiers de Hoummous: the onset of winter

pumpkin_spice_grandeThey speak to me at Christmas time of pumpkin hummus.

It is the get of the multi-culture. Some at this season reprise even the beet fallacy.

Look it up. There is no plural of hummus.

Hummus is of chickpeas.

Rightly, we contest dried versus canned chickpeas. And then we conclude that either can do. And avidly, we pour into our food processors other pulses, other beans, and other vegetables to mash them up. But those are not hummus. They are dips and pastes and sauces. That must find their own names.

Anything else is the theft of a word that is the property of the chickpea. Chickpeas, garbanzo beans, ceci nuts, sometimes also known as Egyptian peas, Bengal grams, and Kabuli chana: they own hummus.

You may flavor your hummus as you will. After all, you are not choosing a plastic cup on a supermarket shelf. This is MidLaw. You are rolling your own. Radical self-determination is the essence of MidLaw Mind.

So, roasted red peppers are fine. A soupcon of vinegar from time to time perhaps. Frankly, pumpkin spice sounds a bit effete, but OK. For flavor. That’s up to you.

But do not take a simple and sturdy word that has stood for millennia. It does not belong to you. “Hummus” comes from the Arabic word meaning “chickpeas.” It does not mean pumpkins.


CHRISTMAS NOTE: The single question that MidLaw receives most often is, “What is your recipe for hummus?” Longtime MidLaw readers know that hummus culture is a journey, not a destination. Lifelong learning is at the core of MidLaw Mind. Revelation is continuing. Still, in recognition of the season and feeling the onset of winter, MidLaw will bring back key hummus-recipe-and-tips links for an upcoming holiday special. You must return to MidLaw for the holidays.

Cahiers de Hoummos: as International Year of Pulses approaches, MidLaw urges restraint

PULSE LOGO_IYP_en_print-squareWord has come – from New York, Rome and capitals around the world: 2016 is to be the International Year of Pulses. (That is: 2016 is to be the International Year of Pulses!)

The Year has been declared by the United Nations and its Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). And, about time.

MidLaw knows that pulses are annual leguminous crops yielding between one and 12 grains or seeds of variable size, shape and colour within a pod. They are used both for food and for feed. And, MidLaw knows that the term “pulses” is limited to crops harvested solely for dry grain. Oh, and pulses use soil bacteria to draw nitrogen from the air, reducing the need for fertilizers, so they promote environmental sustainability, as well.

First among the nutritious, sustainable pulses stands the chickpea: sturdy foundation of hummus, core ingredient of the ancient bean dip.

Of course, pulses also include lentils, beans and peas. And all of them “have been an essential part of the human diet for centuries,” even though, as the FAO laments, “their nutritional value is not generally recognized and is frequently under-appreciated.”

Friends, that deficit is about to be corrected. In the Year of Pulses, look for the heretofore lowly pulses to be celebrated, as “not merely cheap and delicious,” but “also highly nutritious sources of protein and vital micronutrients that can greatly benefit people’s health and livelihoods, particularly in developing countries.”

So, 2016 looks to be quite a year.

But, in all the excitement, MidLaw feels compelled to sound a note of caution. MidLaw detects amidst the entirely justified enthusiasm for pulses generally, an incipient encouragement to those who would advocate making hummus out of any pulse that comes their way. (Not just pulses, beets as well.)

While MidLaw is second to none in enthusiasm for pulses, there are fundamental principles. So, yes, it is good to celebrate the culinary and other merits of under-appreciated beans and peas. MidLaw agrees. But, we must recur to fundamental principles. And, such a principle is that hummus is made only from the chickpea.

The peoples of the Levant have been making hummus for 5,000 years. And surely by the waters of Babylon in all that time, temptations must have come to render hummus from chickpea alternatives. Yet, the Levant has stood firm. Over the centuries; over the millennia. There is no voice there for beet hummus, none for the black bean. These are doings of Californians.

Now, MidLaw gladly embraces change. Truth is eternal, but our understanding of it must progress. Revelation is continuing. MidLaw knows this. Yet, neither should the settled wisdom of the ages lightly be cast to the side when buffeted by the latest wind of doctrine.

So, MidLaw has readily embraced the whirring blades of the food processor and absorbed the burning heat of the microwave — in the name of change. But MidLaw has also recurred frequently to fundamental principles. And MidLaw stands firm for the timeless principle that hummus be of chickpeas made.

This is the MidLaw Way. As it shall remain — even in the International Year of Pulses, which itself is much to be welcomed and indeed celebrated.

Pulse Symbol_High

Cahiers de Hoummos: a champion of classic hummus speaks

aboo11An authoritative hummus voice has sounded. Maureen Abood.

Like MidLaw, Abood’s fundamental message is “roll your own.” And, her focus is on hewing to the few, classic ingredients and perfecting fundamental methods. None of those trendy alternatives or add-ins for her.

But, some Abood methods challenge long-time MidLaw habits. The keys are: (1) go to great lengths to remove the chickpea skins, (2) don’t mix the olive oil into the puree, instead pour it on top at the end, (3) emphasize the lemon juice to adjust flavor, (4) save and chill the chickpea cooking liquid before adding it back.

MidLaw’s ways are questioned, so the MidLaw Test Kitchen is on the case.

For now though, Abood is a voice to be reckoned with. She goes deeper into methodology than anything MidLaw has seen before. She advocates using dried chickpeas when possible and taking days in the soaking and simmering if you have the time, but she wastes no scruples on this: if what you have is canned chickpeas and limited time, don’t let that stop you. You will still get great hummus. She is committed to the integrity of simple, classic ingredients: chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, tahini. Olive oil at the end. No beets. And she is a champion of rolling your own.

Discipline. Stick to the basics. Perfect your methods. Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Integrity. Do it yourself; do not rely on others. In what matters, Abood’s way is also the MidLaw Way.

A great hummus champion.

Thanks to Washington lawyer, lead guitarist of DC band Blue Book Value, novelist, and author of The Shining Rock Grand, Bill Winslow for calling attention to Maureen Abood.