Metal tray with bowl of sesame free Hummus, olives and crostini

When I found out I had become allergic to sesame I was devastated. I just had to add it to the growing list: prawns, fish, almonds and peanuts – no bother really. But Sesame was a component in so many of my favourite Middle Eastern foods, and in particular hummus. Having enjoyed it for so long, giving up “traditional” homemade hummus didn’t seem like an option, but sesame-free hummus it had to be. It may seem simple dip, but I have to admit it took some time before I had a technique for making sesame-free hummus I was happy to serve to others. 

As with many ancient dishes, there are literally hundreds of ways to make hummus. There are  many regional variations and even multiple ways to spell it (Hommos, homous, houmos, hoummos and humus), but they all have chickpeas, lemon, garlic and of course tahini. Luckily it turns out that tahini is so ancient that it too has developed some variations too – and one of them is using  sunflower seeds instead of sesame seeds.

To make smooth and creamy sesame free hummus there are a couple of tricks you need to know.

Trick #1 – If you’re using dried chickpeas, put them in a large bowl and cover with twice the volume of cold water. Stir in a teaspoon of baking soda and leave to soak for 24 hours – this will help the chickpeas soften more quickly and makes the hummus creamier. Cooking them with baking soda softens the skins.

Trick #2 – If using canned chickpeas they can be firmer, so for a really silky, creamy hummus, remove the papery skins. Rub the chickpeas between your fingers, easiest done in water, it’s a fiddly job, but worth the effort.

The final flavouring can be adjusted to suit your palate (or your family’s). To serve your hummus, drizzle a little olive oil on top,  you could also add a sprinkle of za’atar, sumac or smoked paprika, or if you fancy some fresh herbs such as finely chopped coriander or mint.

Sesame free Hummus


  • 125g dried chickpeas, or 1 x 400g tin
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda (optional)
  • 2- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and grated or try roasted garlic for a milder taste
  • 1/4 cup  sunflower seed tahini or traditional tahini
  • Juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste  approximately 45 ml
  • Aquafaba 30ml
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, to top


Drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas. Put them in a large pot (or pressure cooker) with the remaining baking soda and cover with cold water.

Bring to the boil then reduce the temperature and simmer until the chickpeas are tender, add more water to keep the chickpeas covered if necessary. They may take 1-2 hours to cook or 20-30 minutes in a pressure cooker. Once cooked they should be easy to crush between your fingers but not falling apart.

Leave the chickpeas to cool in the cooking liquid, then drain well, reserving the aquafaba. If using tinned or jarred chickpeas, drain and save some aquafaba. Add the garlic, lemon and tahini to a food processor or use a stick blender to make a stiff paste.

Add the peeled chickpeas, blitz until pureed. With the motor still running, drizzle in aquafaba, blend until the hummus smooth and creamy.

If using tinned or jarred chickpeas taste the hummus before adding salt. Add the ground cumin, a good pinch of sea salt, blend and taste.

Adjust the flavours – add more lemon, salt or cumin until you like the flavour.

Scoop into a serving bowl, drizzle a little olive oil over the surface and add a dusting of smoked paprika or a sprinkling of dukkah

Love food, hate waste?

If you’re using tinned or jarred chickpeas, drain them and save some aquafaba. Any left over aquafaba can be used to make mayos or meringues. Freeze in ice cube trays for later use if not needed immediately.

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