Soak the chickpeas in plenty of cold water overnight. Drain, put in a saucepan and cover generously with water. Boil until completely soft.
Meanwhile, peel the onion, cut in half and slice finely. Melt a third of the butter with half the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the sliced onion and cook, stirring, until soft but not browned. Stir in the caster sugar, remove from the heat and leave on one side.
Drain the cooked chickpeas and put them into a food processor with the remaining butter and the nutmeg. Whizz thoroughly until smooth. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, then stir in the fried onion with its butter and oil and spoon into a small earthenware dish.
© 1997 Josceline Dimbleby. All rights reserved.