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.
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
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
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
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
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).
Page 1 of 1