Alternative namesHommos, houmous
Place of originMiddle East
Region or stateLevant and Egypt
Serving temperatureRoom temperature or warm
Main ingredientsChickpeas, tahini

Hummus (/ˈhʊməs/, /ˈhʌməs/;[1][2] Arabic: حُمُّص ḥummuṣ, 'chickpeas'), also spelled hommus or houmous, is a Middle Eastern dip, spread, or savory dish made from cooked, mashed chickpeas blended with tahini, lemon juice, and garlic.[3] The standard garnish in the Middle East includes olive oil, a few whole chickpeas, parsley, and paprika.[4][5]

The earliest mention of Hummus comes from Syria, in a 13th-century cookbook attributed to the Aleppine historian Ibn al-Adim.[6]

Popular 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 or vegetables.

Etymology and spelling

The word hummus is Arabic: حُمُّص, romanizedḥummuṣ 'chickpeas'.[7][2][8] The full name of the prepared spread in Arabic is ḥummuṣ bi ṭaḥīna 'chickpeas with tahini'.[9] The colloquial Arabic word ḥummuṣ is a variant of the Arabic ḥimmaṣ or ḥimmiṣ which may be derived from the Aramaic language (חמצי ḥemṣīn, ḥemṣāy[10]), corresponding to the Syriac word for chickpeas: ḥem(m)ṣē.[11] 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.[12][13] Some claim that it was mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, in Ruth 2:14 as חֹמֶץ ḥōmeṣ 'vinegar', which can be derived from the word חימצה / חִמְצָה ḥimṣā for chickpeas;[14][15][16][17] however, linguists Pelio Fronzaroli (1971) and Leonid Kogan (2011) derive Hebrew חֹמֶץ ḥomeṣ 'vinegar' from Proto-Semitic root *ḥmṣ̂- 'to be sour', whence also Jewish Palestinian Aramaic ḥmʕ and Arabic حَامِض ḥāmiḍ 'to be sour; acid'.[18][19][20]

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.[21][2][11]

The major British supermarkets use houmous.[22][23][24][25][26]

Other spellings include homous, houmos, houmus, and similar variants. While humus (as it is spelled in Turkish) is sometimes found, it is avoided as a heteronym of humus, organic matter in soil.[21]

Origin and history

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.[27] Its basic ingredients—chickpeas, sesame, lemon, and garlic—have been combined and eaten in Egypt and the Levant for centuries.[28][29] Though regional populations widely ate chickpeas, and often cooked them in stews and other hot dishes,[30] puréed chickpeas eaten cold with tahini do not appear in records before the Abbasid Caliphate in Egypt and the Levant.[31]

The earliest mention of Hummus comes from Syria, in a 13th-century cookbook attributed to the Aleppine historian Ibn al-Adim.[6][32] Other early written recipes for a dish resembling ḥummuṣ bi ṭaḥīna are recorded in cookbooks written in Cairo in the 13th century.[27][33] A cold purée of chickpeas with vinegar and pickled lemons with herbs, spices, and oil, but no tahini or garlic, appears in the Treasure Trove of Benefits and Variety at the Table (كنز الفوائد في تنويع الموائد);[34][31] and a purée of chickpeas and tahini called hummus kasa appears in Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan ibn al-Karīm's The Book of Dishes:[35] it is based on puréed chickpeas and tahini, and acidulated with vinegar (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.[36]

Regional preparations

Hummus with pine nuts and olive oil
Hummus served in a bowl on a platter of pita bread

As an appetizer and dip, diners scoop hummus with flatbread, such as pita.[37] It is also served as part of a meze or as an accompaniment to falafel, grilled chicken, fish, or eggplant.[37]

Hummus is a popular dip in Egypt where it is eaten with pita,[38] and frequently flavored with cumin or other spices.[37][38][39]

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.[40]

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. Israeli versions use large amounts of tahini for a creamier texture.[41]

One author calls hummus, "One of the most popular and best-known of all Syrian dishes" and a "must on any mezzeh table."[42] 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.[43]

In Cyprus, hummus is part of the local cuisine in both Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities where it is called "humoi" (Greek: χούμοι).[44][45] In the United Kingdom, hummus was popularized by Greek Cypriot caterers, sometimes leading to a perception of it being a Greek food.[46]

In Turkey, hummus is considered a meze.[47]

In France, in the region of Provence, there is a dish called poichichade that resembles hummus.[48]

In the United States and Europe, hummus is commercially available in numerous traditional and non-traditional varieties, such as beet or chocolate.[49]


Chickpeas, the main ingredient of conventional hummus, have appreciable amounts of dietary fiber, protein, vitamin B6, manganese and other nutrients.[50]

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.[51][52]

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.[51][52]

Packaged product

United Kingdom

In the 1980s, the supermarket Waitrose was the first British supermarket to stock hummus. Hummus was popularized in the UK by chefs such as Yotam Ottolenghi, Claudia Roden and Anissa Helou. As of 2013, £60 million worth of hummus was sold in the UK each year, and one survey found that 41% of Britons had hummus in their fridge, twice as many as the rest of Europe. A Waitrose spokesperson said it had become a grocery staple.[53]

United States

In 2006, hummus was present in 12 percent of American households, rising to 17 percent by early 2009.[54] One commentator attributed the growth of hummus to America's embrace of ethnic and exotic foods.[54]

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.[55] 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.[55][56][57]

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.[55] Hummus consumption has been so popular that many tobacco farmers have switched to growing chickpeas to meet demand.[58]

Popular culture

Hummus is often seen as an unofficial "national dish" of Israel, reflecting its huge popularity and significance among the entire Israeli population,[37] which Israel's critics describe as an appropriation of Lebanese,[59] Palestinian or Arab culture.[60] 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.[61][62] 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,[63] while sociologist Rafi Grosglick points out the importance of its health aspects to their diet.[64] 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.[37][65][66]

In October 2008, the Association of Lebanese Industrialists petitioned to the Lebanese Ministry of Economy and Trade to request protected status from the European Commission for hummus as a uniquely Lebanese food, similar to the Protected Geographical Status rights held over regional food items by various European Union countries.[67][68][69] As of 2009, the Lebanese Industrialists Association was still "collecting documents and proof" to support its claim.[70]

The 2005 short film West Bank Story features a rivalry between two fictional restaurants, the Israeli "Kosher King" and the Palestinian "Hummus Hut". A parody of West Side Story, the film won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film.[71] In 2012, Australian filmmaker Trevor Graham released a documentary, Make Hummus Not War, on the political and gastronomic aspects of hummus.[72]

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".[59] The "title" has gone back and forth between Israel (2008), Lebanon (2009), Israel (January 2010),[73] and, as of 2021, Lebanon (May 2010).[59][74][75] 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.[76][77][78] 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.[74]

See also


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