Hummus: A Complete Guide

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Most people have heard of hummus but have no real understanding of what it is, what it’s made of or how it actually tastes. 

They hear the word “hummus” and immediately cringe because it defies their sense of normal for dips

However, don’t dismiss hummus entirely until you actually learn more about it and try it for yourself.

So, What Is Hummus?

Hummus, in Arabic, means chickpeas.

Chickpeas are one superfood that doesn’t get a lot of attention, and when it does, it’s usually not in a good light. For many, there is an “eww” factor.

Chickpeas are used in many dishes. But chickpeas, when mixed with several ingredients in a food processor, create the paste texture called hummus. These ingredients are:

  • Sesame paste
  • Lemon juice
  • Garlic
  • Oil

Pita bread is often served with the hummus spread.

Although hummus is growing popular among health-conscious individuals, it’s always been quite popular with those in the Mediterranean region.

It’s very popular in the Middle East.

Where Does “Hummus” Originate?

There is much debate about the actual origins of hummus.

Although the term chickpeas come from the Arabic language, there is speculation that it originated elsewhere.

Indeed, there will never be a definitive answer to its origins, but hummus references have been found as far back as the 13th century in Egypt.

For 7500 years now, the chickpea was planted and grown in the Middle East.

In fact, it’s regarded as one of the earliest “cultivated” crops because of the array of nutrients it provided to consumers and restored the depleted soils.

Word spread about this vegetable across the European continent, which civilizations beyond the Middle East began to grow, cultivate and consume chickpeas for themselves.

With the realization of how beneficial chickpeas were, it’s no big surprise that ancient chefs thought of unique ways to consume the plant.

Hummus was one of those creative outcomes.

Where does Hummus credit go?

There are several nations that claim to be the “creator” of hummus – Lebanese, Syrians, Turks, Greeks, etc.

Many Bible scholars have noted references were made to hummus in the Book of Ruth.

The Hummus Wars began in 2008 after Lebanon officials hurled accusations at Israel of exploiting hummus’ success.

It’s a feud that continues to date and was made strange with Lebanon’s attempt to justify hummus origins with its super large plate of hummus the Guinness Book of World Records recognized.

Perhaps it would be better to say that hummus is an amalgamation of cultures coming together to share and trade crops and recipes.

Even if one group were to finally be credited with the birth of hummus, other cultures could tailor it to fit their tastes that others around the world can enjoy.

Hummus meaning and spelling: what’s the hoopla behind it?

Remember, hummus in Arabic means chickpeas, but it’s also used to describe the dish “hummus bi tahini” or chickpeas with tahini.

If an English definition for hummus is to be given, chickpea must be included since it is this tiny bean that provides that meaty flavor hummus has.

Hummus is spelled in many ways – humus, hommos, hommus and houmous – but the most commonly recognized spelling is HUMMUS (the U.S. English version).

The spelling tends to resemble the language of the country using it.

For example, in Australia, the spelling of hummus is hoummos.

For Israel and British English, the spelling is houmous.

Simply put, it’s just the location that affects the dish’s spelling.

What Does Hummus Taste Like?

One of the reasons people are put off by hummus is the chickpeas, but those interested in living a healthier lifestyle may ask one question: what does it actually taste like?

It’s important to note that it’s got a creamy texture you’d see with other dairy-based dips, but the flavor is unique. It’s more nutty than milky, which balances out the acidity the garlic ingredient gives off, and the tartness lemon juice produces. 

The spices and flavors added to the chickpea paste will affect the end product, taste and quality. While texture stays relatively the same, added ingredients, such as olives and sun-dried tomatoes, will alter the taste. 

Hummus vs. Baba Ganoush: Can Consumers Taste The Difference?

It’s all about taste when distinguishing hummus from baba ghanoush. The texture, color and consistency are nearly identical, but taste makes them worlds apart. 

And what is the one ingredient that separates the two? Eggplant. Baba Ganoush is made from eggplant, not chickpeas. 

What kind of flavor does eggplant produce?

It may have an earthy taste, but it’s a poor substitute for recipes that call for hummus.

If you had no hummus and used eggplant in its place, you may find the dish has a completely different flavor. 

Both baba ghanoush and hummus are healthy, loaded with protein and fiber with tons of nutrients the body needs to thrive.

Eggplant has vitamins and minerals chickpeas do not have.

Regardless of what spread you choose, they are both healthy, delicious and go great with Pita chips and pretzels. 

Tahini vs. Hummus: What Are The Differences?

Chickpeas made into paste produce hummus, and Tahini’s toasted sesame paste is used to produce hummus as well. However, Tahini has an oil film at the top, whereas hummus does not. 

It’s also creamier and nuttier with a bit bitter taste to it than you’d find with hummus.

There is no way to compare the nutritional data of both tahini and hummus since hummus contains tahini.  

Tahini contains healthy fats, fiber, protein and many minerals and vitamins the body needs. 

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