Hummus or hummus bi tahini, also spelt as hummous, hummos, hommos, homos, hamos, houmous, is an extremely popular traditional Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dipping spread made of chickpeas( also popularly known as the Garbanzo bean). Tahini, the famous sesame paste of Middle Eastern cuisines, is used to make this yellow colored savory and flavorful accompaniment and appetizer dish which is usually served with Middle Eastern breads like pita. It is also eaten as an appetizer at times. Hummus, originally a Levantine Arabian dish, has gained popularity in other places of the world too because of its flavorfulness which is mainly contributed by garlic and lemon juice. Popular hummus recipes include orange hummus (made with orange flavoring), black bean hummus (which is made using black beans instead of chick peas), Jalapeno Hummus (the dip is made with jalapeno flavoring), and the Red Pepper hummus. The traditional hummus made using garlic and lemon juice is in fact the best of all and it can be consumed as it is as an appetizer or as an accompaniment to other dishes like flatbreads (including pita bread), falafel, crackers and also tortilla chips.
Hummus is the Arabian name for the chickpea and the dish named after it is obviously believed to be of Arabic origin, though there is a lot of controversial data according to food history in this regard. The main ingredients of hummus, chickpeas and sesame, have been discovered and cultivated long time ago in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries. However, hummus, one of the dishes made by combining these ingredients with others like olive oil, to make hummus was known in the Egyptian cuisine about 7000 years ago. Hummus was also a popular dish of the ancient Greek and Syrian cuisines as well. There is a 12th century reference to the origin of hummus, according to which it was first prepared by Saladin, the Kurdish Muslim ruler of Egypt and Syria. Some historical evidences show the usage of vinegar in place of lemon juice and also the usage of nuts (hazelnut and walnut) in the medieval recipe of the hummus.
Ingredients and Preparation
Traditionally, the hummus is made using chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. The dish is seasoned with salt. However the modern versions of the hummus are made including a number of other ingredients some of which also replace the traditional ingredients. Red pepper, jalapeno, almond butter, cilantro, black bean, roasted eggplant, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, peanut butter, pumpkin, soyabean and a number of other ingredients are added to hummus dishes for variety in flavoring and versatility in usage. The humus is made with a number of toppings which serve to greatly enhance the flavor of the dish. Sautéed mushrooms, chopped tomatoes, herbs like cilantro and parsley, caramelized onions, spices like paprika and sumac, ful( fava beans preparation), hard boiled eggs and pickled olives are used as toppings on the hummus.
Hummus is easily prepared though the commercially packaged version of the dish is easily available in supermarkets. Fresh hummus is prepared with drained chickpeas. If canned chickpeas are not available, the garbanzo needs to be first soaked in water and prepared for usage as an ingredient in the hummus. The sesame paste also needs to be prepared before being used in the dish When all the ingredients for preparing the dish are gathered, the drained chickpeas are blended along with the other ingredients, i.e. tahini, garlic and lemon juice, in a blender to a paste. The paste is collected in a dish and oiled with olive oil by adding a bit of the oil in a well formed in the hummus mass and then blending it well with the mixture. This makes the hummus ready for serving. For a spicier flavor a bit of cayenne pepper or red chili can be blended along with the other ingredients while preparing the hummus. The garnish is added at the end just before serving.
Hummus is one of the most versatile dishes which can be eaten as it is , or as an appetizer or served with other dishes as an accompaniment. Apart from being served with a number of middle eastern flatbreads including the famous pita bread, the hummus is served with falafel( a middle eastern ball-shaped patty made of chick peas). It is also served as a side course with grilled chicken, fish and eggplant dishes. In Western countries and other non-middle eastern countries the hummus is preferred as a partner for tortilla chips and crackers. The hummus and recipes similar to hummus recipes were included in the list of staple foods by the Israelis and Palestinians.
Hummus,being made of ingredients which are known for their nutritional worth, is one of the healthiest dishes. The Chickpeas are high in proteins and dietary fiber. The dish is rich in the B vitamins including vitamins B6 and folates. The amino acids of the sesame add up to the nutritional worth of the dish making the sesame and chickpea combination one of the most nutritious combinations.