In Middle Eastern cuisine, it is usually eaten as a dip, with pita bread. In the West, it is now produced industrially, and is often served as a snack or appetizer with crackers.
Etymology and spelling
The word hummus comes from Arabic: حُمُّص, romanized: ḥummuṣ 'chickpeas'. The full name of the prepared spread in Arabic is ḥummuṣ bi ṭaḥīna 'chickpeas with tahini'. The colloquial Arabic word ḥummuṣ is a variant of the Arabic ḥimmaṣ or ḥimmiṣ which may be derived from the Aramaic language (ḥemṣīn, ḥemṣāy), corresponding to the Syriac word for chickpeas: ḥem(m)ṣē. The word entered the English language around the mid-20th century from the Arabic ḥummuṣ or via its borrowing for the name of the dish in Turkish: humus. Some claim that it was mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, in the book of Ruth as hometz, which can be derived from the word himtza for chickpeas.
Spelling of the word in English can be inconsistent, though most major dictionaries from American and British publishers give hummus as the primary spelling. Some American dictionaries give hommos as an alternative, while British dictionaries give houmous or hoummos.
Although multiple different theories and claims of origins exist in various parts of the Middle East, evidence is insufficient to determine the precise location or time of the invention of hummus. Its basic ingredients—chickpeas, sesame, lemon, and garlic—have been combined and eaten in Egypt and the Levant for centuries. Though regional populations widely ate chickpeas, and often cooked them in stews and other hot dishes, puréed chickpeas eaten cold with tahini do not appear in records before the Abbasid period in Egypt and the Levant.
The earliest known written recipes for a dish resembling hummus bi tahina are recorded in cookbooks written in Cairo in the 13th century. A cold purée of chickpeas with vinegar and pickled lemons with herbs, spices, and oil, but no tahini or garlic, appears in the Kanz al-Fawa'id fi Tanwi' al-Mawa'id; and a purée of chickpeas and tahini called hummus kasa appears in the Kitab Wasf al-Atima al-Mutada: it is based on puréed chickpeas and tahini, and acidulated with vinegar (though not lemon), but it also contains many spices, herbs, and nuts, and no garlic. It is also served by rolling it out and letting it sit overnight.
Hummus with pine nuts and olive oil
Hummus served in a bowl on a platter of pita bread
Hummus is a popular dip in Egypt where it is eaten with pita, and frequently flavored with cumin or other spices.
In the Levant, hummus has long been a staple food, often served as a warm dish, with bread for breakfast, lunch or dinner. All of the ingredients in hummus are easily found in gardens, farms and markets, thus adding to the availability and popularity of the dish. Hummus is usually garnished, with olive oil, "nana" mint leaves, paprika, and parsley.
Hummus is a common part of everyday meals in Israel. It is made from ingredients that, following Kashrut (Jewish dietary laws), can be combined with both meat and dairy meals. Chickpea dishes have long been part of the cuisine of Jews who lived in the Middle East and Northern Africa. The many Mizrahi Jewish immigrants from these countries brought their own unique variations, such as hummus with fried eggplant and boiled eggs prepared by Iraqi Jews. For example, the Yemenite quarter of Tel Aviv is known for its hummus with traditional skhug hot sauce. Israeli versions use large amounts of tahini for a creamier texture. According to Peli-Bronshtein "Israelis also added a hard-boiled egg next to the hummus. And the large quantities of tahini that are part of the hummus these days also are an Israeli thing." Many restaurants, called hummusia, run by Mizrahi Jews and Arabs are dedicated to warm hummus. Those restaurants are largely "male territory". It may be served as chick peas softened with baking soda along with garlic, olive oil, cumin and tahini. One of the hummus versions available is msabbaha, made with lemon-spiked tahini garnished with whole chick peas, a sprinkling of paprika and a drizzle of olive oil. Other versions, includes the foul, made with stewed fava beans, the pitryot made with mushrooms or the Jerusalem made with spiced ground beef and pine nuts.
One author calls hummus, "One of the most popular and best-known of all Syrian dishes" and a "must on any mezzeh table." Syrian and Lebanese in Canada's Arab diaspora prepare and consume hummus along with other dishes like falafel, kibbeh and tabbouleh, even among the third- and fourth-generation offspring of the original immigrants.
As hummus recipes vary, so does nutritional content, depending primarily on the relative proportions of chickpeas, tahini, and water. Hummus provides roughly 170 calories for 100 grams, and is a good to excellent (more than 10% of the Daily Value) source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, and several dietary minerals.
Fat content, mostly from tahini and olive oil, is about 14% of the total; other major components are 65% water, 17% total carbohydrates, including a small amount of sugar, and about 10% protein.
Lebanese-produced hummus in a can for export markets
In 2006, hummus was present in 12 percent of American households, rising to 17 percent by early 2009. One commentator attributed the growth of hummus to America's embrace of ethnic and exotic foods.
While in 2006–08 when some 15 million Americans consumed hummus, and annual national sales were about $5 million, sales growth in 2016 was reflected by an estimated 25% of US households consuming hummus. By 2016, the leading American hummus manufacturer, Sabra Dipping Company, held a 62% market share for hummus sales in the United States, and was forecast to exceed $1 billion in sales in 2017. To meet the rising consumer demand for hummus, American farmers increased their production of chickpeas four-fold since 2009, harvesting more than 100,000,000 pounds (45,000,000 kg) in 2015, an increase from 25,000,000 pounds (11,000,000 kg) in 2009. Hummus consumption has been so popular, many tobacco farmers have switched to growing chickpeas to meet demand.
Hummus is often seen as an unofficial "national dish" of Israel, reflecting its huge popularity and significance among the entire Israeli population, which Israel's critics describe as an appropriation of Lebanese, Palestinian or Arab culture. According to Ofra Tene and Dafna Hirsch, the dispute over ownership of hummus, exposes nationalism through food and the important role played by the industrialization of hummus made by Israeli private companies in 1958. Although, hummus has traditionally been part of the cuisine of the Mizrahi Jews who lived in Arabic-speaking lands, the dish was also popularized among the Jewish immigrants from Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century. Historian Dafna Hirsch describes its adoption in their diet as part of an attempt of blending in the Middle Eastern environment, while sociologist Rafi Grosglick points out the importance of its health aspects to their diet. In recent years, through a process of gourmetization, the Arab identity of hummus became a marker of its authenticity, making famous Arab-Israeli villages such as Abu Gosh and Kafr Yasif. Hence, enthusiasts travel to the more remote Arab and Druze villages in the northern Galilee region in search of culinary experiences.
Lebanon and Israel's chefs have been engaged in a competition over the largest dish of hummus, as validated by the Guinness World Record, as a form of contestation of "ownership". The "title" has gone back and forth between Israel (2008), Lebanon (2009), Israel (January 2010), and, as of 2021[update], Lebanon (May 2010). The winning dish, cooked by 300 cooks in the village of al-Fanar, near Beirut, weighed approximately 10,450 kilograms (23,040 lb), more than double the weight of the Israeli-Arab previous record. According to local media, the recipe included eight tons of boiled chick peas, two tonnes of tahini, two tonnes of lemon juice, and 70 kilograms (150 lb) of olive oil.
Amster, Linda; Sheraton, Mimi (2003), Linda Amster (ed.), The New York Times Jewish Cookbook: More Than 825 Traditional and Contemporary Recipes from Around the World, St. Martin's Press, ISBN9780312290931
Bricklin, Mark (1994), Prevention Magazine's Nutrition Advisor: The Ultimate Guide to the Health-Boosting and Health-Harming Factors in Your Diet, Rodale, ISBN9780875962252
Don Brothwell and Patricia Brothwell (1998), Food in Antiquity: A survey of the Diet of Early Peoples, Expanded Edition, Johns Hopkins University, ISBN0-8018-5740-6
Marks, Gil (2010), Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, John Wiley and Sons, pp. 269–271
David Wesley, Elana Wesley, translators (2012), University of California Press (ed.), Beyond Hummus and Falafel: Social and Political Aspects of Palestinian Food in Israel, ISBN9780520262324((citation)): |author= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
Look up hummus in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Anny Gaul, "Translating Hummus", Cooking with Gaul, October 21, 2019. On hummus variants and authenticity.