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Hummus

Hummus also spelled hamos, homos, houmous, hommos, hommus, hummos or hummous. It is a Levantine Arab dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. It is a popular food throughout the Middle East and elsewhere.

Historical origins
Many cuisine-related sources carry forward a folklore which describes hummus as one of the oldest known prepared foods with a long history in the Middle East stretching back to antiquity, but its historical origins are unknown. The historical enigma is such that the origins of hummus-bi-tahini could be much more recent than is widely believed. One of the earliest verifiable descriptions of hummus comes from 18th-century Damascus and the same source claims it was unknown elsewhere.

Meanwhile some cookbooks repeat the legend that hummus was first prepared in the 12th century by Saladin. Sources such as Cooking in Ancient Civilizations by Cathy K. Kaufman carry speculative recipes for an ancient Egyptian hummus, substituting vinegar for lemon juice, but acknowledge we do not know how the Egyptians ate their chick-peas. Similarly, no recipe for hummus has been identified among the many books on cooking surviving from ancient Rome.

Charles Perry, co-author of Medieval Arab Cookery notes that owing to hummus bi tahina being an everyday staple, and because of the lack of Arab recipe books published between the 14th and 20th centuries, no recipes documenting this food's early ingredients have been found. He says the nearest medieval example recorded in a 13th century Arab cookbook, Kitab Wasf al-Atima al-Mutada is Hummus kasa, which substitutes vinegar for lemon, includes extra herbs and adds walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds and pistachios.

Serving methods
As an appetizer and dip, hummus is scooped with flatbread (such as pita). It is also served as part of a meze or as an accompaniment to falafel, grilled chicken, fish or eggplant. Garnishes include chopped tomato, cucumber, cilantro, parsley, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, whole chickpeas, olive oil, hard-boiled eggs, paprika, sumac, ful, olives and pickles. Outside the Middle East, it is sometimes served with tortilla chips or crackers.

Hummus ful is topped with a paste made from fava beans boiled until soft and then crushed.  Hummus masubha/mashawsha is a mixture of hummus paste, warm chickpeas and tahini.

In Vegetarian Dishes from the Middle East, Arto der Haroutunian calls hummus "one of the most popular and best-known of all Syrian dishes" and "a must on any mezzeh table." Syrians in Canada's Arab diaspora prepare and consume hummus along with other dishes like falafel, kibbe and tabouleh, even among the third and fourth-generation offspring of the original immigrants.

For Palestinians, hummus has long been a staple food, garnished with olive oil and "nana" mint leaves, paprika, parsley or cumin. A related dish popular in the region of Palestine and Jordan is laban ma' hummus ("yogurt and chickpeas"), which uses yogurt in the place of tahini and butter in the place of olive oil. The chickpeas are first boiled alone before the other ingredients are added and it is served hot.

Hummus is a common part of everyday meals in Israel.  Commenting on its popularity, Gil Hovav, an Israeli food editor interviewed on the BBC program Cooking in the Danger Zone, stated that "even during the intifada years Jews would sneak into the Muslim quarter just to have a vital, really genuine good humus," and noted that like many dishes considered to be Israeli national foods, hummus is actually Arab.  However, he also said, commenting on Iraqi, Egyptian, Syrian or Yemeni food in Israel, that "Jews came from these countries to Israel and they brought their food with them".

Many restaurants run by Mizrahi Jews and Arab citizens of Israel are dedicated to hot hummus, which may be served as chick peas softened with baking soda along with garlic, olive oil, cumin and tahini. One of the fancier traditional hummus versions available is hummus masabacha, made with lemon-spiked tahini garnished with whole chick peas, a sprinkling of paprika and a drizzle of olive oil.  Hummus is sold in restaurants, supermarkets and hummus-only shops (known in Hebrew as humusiot).

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