Hummus (, ; Arabic: حُمُّص, 'chickpeas'; full Arabic name: ḥummuṣ bi-ṭ-ṭaḥīna Arabic: حمص بالطحينة, 'chickpeas with tahini') is a Middle Eastern dip, spread, or savory dish made from cooked, mashed chickpeas blended with tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. The standard garnish in the Middle East includes olive oil, a few whole chickpeas, parsley, and paprika.
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.
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. 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.
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 over 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 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, which presumably gives it a very different texture from hummus bi tahina.
As an appetizer and dip, diners scoop hummus with flatbread, such as pita. It is also served as part of a meze or as an accompaniment to falafel, grilled chicken, fish, or eggplant. Garnishes include chopped tomato, cucumber, coriander, parsley, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, whole chickpeas, olive oil, hard-boiled eggs, paprika, sumac, ful, olives, pickles, and pine nuts. Outside the Middle East, it is sometimes served with tortilla chips or crackers.
For Palestinians and Jordanians, 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 Palestinian gardens, farms and markets, thus adding to the availability and popularity of the dish. In Palestine, hummus is usually garnished, with olive oil, "nana" mint leaves, paprika, and parsley. A related dish popular in Palestine and Jordan is laban ma' hummus ("yogurt and chickpeas"), which uses yogurt in the place of tahini and butter in the place of olive oil and is topped with pieces of toasted bread.
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. Jewish immigrants arriving from Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century adopted much of the local Palestinian cuisine, including hummus, though it traditionally has been part of the cuisine of the Mizrahi Jews who lived in Arabic-speaking lands. 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, and Hasa Al Hummus, a chickpea soup preferred by Moroccans. The Yemenite quarter of Tel Aviv is known for its hummus with traditional skhug hot sauce. More recently, African immigrants have brought specialties such as Sudanese Hummus Darfur, with eggs, tomatoes, and grated cheese. Arab Israelis and Jews alike seek out authentic hummus in Arab hummusia, restaurants specializing in hummus dishes, making famous such Arab villages as Abu Gosh and Kafr Yasif. Enthusiasts travel to the more remote Arab and Druze villages in the northern Galilee region in search of the perfect hummus experience.
Although sometimes criticized as Jewish appropriation of Palestinian and Arab culture, hummus has been adopted as an unofficial "national dish" of Israel, reflecting its huge popularity and significance among the entire Israeli population. Many restaurants run by Mizrahi Jews and Arab citizens of Israel are dedicated to warm hummus, which 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.
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.
In Cyprus, hummus is part of the local cuisine in both Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities where it is called "humoi" (Greek: χούμοι). In the United Kingdom, hummus was popularized by Greek Cypriot caterers, sometimes leading to a perception of it being a Greek food, though it is not well known in Greece.
In the United States and Europe, hummus is commercially available in numerous traditional and non-traditional varieties, such as beet or chocolate.
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.
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 has served as a symbol of national identity for both Lebanon and Israel and is at the center of a rhetorical battle between the two countries.
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. As of 2009, the Lebanese Industrialists Association was still "collecting documents and proof" to support its claim.
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, which is itself an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, the film won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film. In 2012, Australian filmmaker Trevor Graham released a documentary, Make Hummus Not War, on the political and gastronomic aspects of hummus.
Lebanon and Israel 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, 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 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.