Likely you already and know and love this delicious dish from Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Palestine, but now you can make it at home. 

What is it?

Blended chickpea super food! Try not to let the oil drip as you scoop up a dab of smooth hummus with a piece of warm pita and bring the lemony, garlicky morsel to your lips.

Origins

Hummus comes from the Middle East, but exactly when and where it developed no one is sure. Chickpeas were cultivated in Neolithic times, and Arab recipes from the Middle Ages mention ways of preparing them but, according to one scholar, the first batch of hummus as we know it was boiled up in 18th-century Damascus. Whatever the case, hummus is hugely popular all over the Levant and is revered among both Jews and Arabs.

Bowl of tahini with sesame seeds
Hummus is made with tahini and chickpeas among other things © AlexPro9500/Getty Images

Ingredients

250g (9oz) dried chickpeas 5 cups water, for cooking the chickpeas
1⁄2 tsp bicarb soda (baking soda)(optional)
1⁄2 cup tahini (sesame-seed paste)
1⁄4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1⁄2 tbs salt
fresh pita, to serve

Optional toppings
extra virgin olive oil chopped fresh parsley pickle slices
ground cumin
sweet paprika ground black pepper pine nuts

Optional to serve
diced hard-boiled egg falafel
s’chug (Yemenite chili paste) thick slices of white onion

How to cook

Step 1:  Remove any damaged, misshapen or discolored chickpeas. Rinse and then soak the chickpeas in a large bowl of cold water for 24 hours (in hot weather, place the bowl in the fridge to avoid fermentation). Change the water after 12 hours.
Step 2: Drain and rinse the chickpeas before putting them in a large pan with the 5 cups of water over a high heat.
Step 3: If you’d like your hummus to be creamy (rather than textured), add the bicarb soda.
Step 4: When the mixture is boiling, skim off any foam. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the chickpeas 2–3 hours (in a pressure cooker, cook for 45 minutes after the contents start boiling).
Step 5: Add water to ensure the chickpeas always remain covered with liquid.
Step 6: Stir every 30 minutes so the mixture doesn’t stick to the pan.
Step 7: The chickpeas are ready when they squash easily between your thumb and index finger. Let the chickpeas cool in the water, then drain the chickpeas, setting aside 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
Step 8: If you’d like to garnish the hummus with whole chickpeas, set aside 1⁄2 cup of the cooked chickpeas.
Step 9: Put the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, crushed garlic and salt in a blender and puree for at least 3 minutes. If the mixture is too thick, add cooking liquid as required to achieve your preferred consistency.
Step 10: Using a circular motion, spread the now- creamy hummus in a shallow bowl so that it is evenly distributed along the bottom and sides.
Step 11: Garnish the hummus with your preferred combination of toppings. Serve the hummus with fresh pita (for scooping up the hummus) and, if you’d like, diced hard-boiled egg, falafel, s’chug (Yemenite hot chilli paste) and/or thick slices of onion.

Falafel, hummus and pita bread
Falafel, hummus and pita bread, the perfect meal © Arx0nt/ Getty Images

Tasting notes

Hummus inspires passions, and many connoisseurs have ardent views about the right way to prepare and serve it. Some like theirs as smooth and creamy as mousse, others prefer it textured and a little bit rough. Israelis enjoy "wiping up" hummus with a pita at any time of the day or night, but for Palestinians, Jordanians and Lebanese hummus is commonly eaten for breakfast or brunch, often in little eateries that close by mid-afternoon. If you want to get Arabs and Israelis to agree about something, though, casually suggest making the beloved paste with peanut butter instead of tahini (as one celebrity chef does) – disbelief will quickly be replaced by a united chorus of outrage and disgust!

Other recipes in this series:
Durban bunny chow
Texan ‘five alarm’ chili
Israeli shakshouka

Have you recreated any of the dishes featured in this series so far? Share your pictures with us on Twitter and Instagram by tagging @lonelyplanet. For more great recipes, check out Lonely Planet’s book The World’s Best Super Food.

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