Have you got an hour? Ask a Middle Eastern person about their favourite hummus and be ready to listen long and hard! Hummus is an everyday traditional food all the way from Yemen to Egypt, Israel, Lebanon and Turkey but there are as many variations as there are eaters! At its simplest, hummus combines chickpeas and tahini, then there’s the potential addition of salt, pepper, spices, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and water. Plus, there’s the question of texture. Should it be smooth or sturdy?
No-one really knows where hummus originated but there’s a reference to hummus bi tahina in a text from 13th century Egypt. (In Arabic, ‘hummus’ means chickpeas, so the proper Arabic name for the combination of chickpeas and tahini is hummus bi tahina.)
Various countries and peoples have tried to claim hummus as their own, most recently Lebanon, which sparked the so-called Hummus Wars of 2009-10 between Lebanon and Israel. Lebanon sparked the dispute by making a world-record-breaking two-tonne bowl of hummus in 2009, and trying to have Lebanon declared the origin of hummus. That started a war of chickpea escalation with Israel, which answered with a four-tonne hummus served in a satellite dish. Lebanon brought out the big guns months later with a 10.5 tonne hummus.
For the conflict-wracked Middle East, the Hummus Wars were highly charged and symbolic but also something of a relief. “If we have to fight, let’s fight about hummus,” was a common sentiment. Read more about it.
In Australia, we usually think of hummus as a dip but in Israel hummus is a meal. There are even hummusiyas, restaurants that specialise in hummus topped with complementary elements like smoky eggplant, boiled eggs, beans or meat. In these places, the hummus is often served warm and there’s always pita bread, pickles and salad. Honestly, there are endless ways to go with hummus once you start making your own.
So, to get the party started, I have a basic Everyday Hummus recipe. There are some cheffy recipes and fun videos below. And when you want more dips and condiments, click through to my Dips & Condiments collection below.
I love hummus so much, I had to talk about it on the radio.