Hummus is the kind of food that seems scary to try for the first time, but quickly becomes an addictive favorite for many. Both smooth and grainy, with a brown or tan color, hummus looks like a simple dip but it holds within it a world of flavor.
In this article, we’ll look at hummus: the spread that goes with anything.
What Is Hummus?
Hummus originated in the Middle East, and recipes for it date back to the 13th century. In its purest form, hummus consists of cooked mashed or blended chickpeas, mixed with tahini, lemon, and garlic.
Traditionally, it is served with a few whole chickpeas to garnish along with a drizzle of olive oil and a few leaves of mint or paprika, and eaten cold with pita bread as a snack.
As hummus gained popularity in the 21st century, it spread around the world. Today, it is industrially manufactured and shipped to every country, to be used as a dip, a snack, or as a spread for sandwiches and wraps.
What Does Hummus Look Like?
Hummus is usually a brown or tan spread in a sealed container that is spread with a spoon or a knife.
Restaurant hummus may involve more garnishes and have a grainier texture than the manufactured hummus you find from major companies in the grocery store.
This type of hummus is also often preferred, since the preservatives that are used in grocery store hummus alter the flavor. Fresh hummus has a richer and tangier taste.
Depending on the spices used in the hummus, there could be additional garnishes or a dip added on top of the hummus, to be mixed into it as it is eaten.
In the west, new varieties of hummus, including red pepper and roasted vegetable hummus, are pushing the limits of the tradition and creating new types of hummus.
What Texture Does Hummus Have?
Hummus is a thick, creamy spread that is also grainy from the roughly mashed chickpeas. Authentic, fresh hummus is often noticeably grainier than the smooth humus that is produced in factories and has a richer and more vibrant flavor.
If you go to a good Middle Eastern restaurant, they will likely serve you fresh hummus, and you’ll notice the difference immediately.
Although many people prefer the stronger flavor of homemade or restaurant hummus, the texture of store-bought hummus is smoother and creamier, which can create a more pleasant taste experience for some people.
The hummus you find in stores often has more tahini in it and is blended more completely in industrial blenders.
Where Does Hummus Come From?
Although the origin of hummus is in some dispute, most scholars believe that hummus originated in Egypt, where chickpeas have always been an important part of the local cuisine, and a staple of Egyptian life.
The first recorded recipes for hummus in the 13th century are traced back to Egypt. Some even believe that hummus was an important dish in ancient Egypt, more than 1000 years earlier.
However, there are rival and competing claims. Hummus is also an important part of Greek culture, and it has spread across the Middle East to become so ubiquitous that it seems every town or region has its own particular style and variety of hummus.
There are Lebanese, Turkish, and Palestinian versions of hummus.
The word “hummus” was introduced to English through the Turkish language. In Arabic and Turkish, the word “hummus” simply means chickpeas, and the dish that we call hummus they refer to as “hummus-bi-tahina” or “chickpeas with tahini”.
It doesn’t particularly matter where in the Arab world hummus comes from. Today it is everywhere.
Is Hummus Healthy?
If you are trying to improve your diet, hummus could be an ingredient that will change your life and transform how you eat.
With so much flavor packed into every teaspoon, hummus makes the perfect spread for sandwiches and wraps, replacing fattier options like mayo or salad dressing, and delivering important nutrients and antioxidants.
Studies suggest that hummus can reduce inflammation in the body.
Both olive oil and tahini contain compounds that have been linked to decreased inflammation, and diets that are rich in legumes like chickpeas have been shown to reduce blood markers of inflammation.
Hummus also contains a lot of indigestible fiber from chickpeas that will help improve your gut health and maintain regularity.
Fiber helps to grow the “good bacteria” in your microbiome, which can help you fight off infections and absorb more nutrients from the food you eat.
As a low-glycemic-index food, hummus won’t cause your blood sugar to spike, which means that it can be a part of a diabetic diet.
It’s also naturally free of many other allergens that cause people health problems, like nuts, gluten, and dairy. Some studies even link the consumption of hummus to lower blood pressure and a decreased risk of heart disease.
Lastly, eating more hummus might be a way to feel full, consume fewer calories, and lose weight. According to a national survey, respondents who regularly eat chickpeas are 55% less likely to be obese.
The link between appetite and satiety with legumes is still being studied, but anecdotally it looks like eating more hummus and chickpeas is a good way to lose weight.
What Are The Dangers Of Eating Hummus?
You could get a pretty dangerous case of garlic breath.
Seriously though, there are very few allergens in hummus, and if you are able to eat and digest chickpeas, you should have no problems with hummus.
The biggest danger of eating a lot of hummus is increased sodium.
If you are making your own hummus at home you can adjust the salt levels to taste, but if you are buying your hummus from a grocery store chain it is almost a definite fact that a lot of sodium has been added as a preservative, even if you can’t taste it.
Grocery store hummus is also often fattier, with more tahini and olive oil to create that smooth, velvety texture.
Adding more hummus to your diet comes with many health benefits, but if you are buying all your hummus from the grocery store, you should limit your intake to the recommended number of servings, and try to reduce your sodium intake from other dishes.
How Do You Eat Hummus?
There are lots of different ways to eat hummus, but the classic method is to dip a triangle of pita into the hummus, scooping up a generous portion, and pop the pita triangle into your mouth.
The mixture of pita bread and hummus is a perfect balance.
How Can I Store Hummus?
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For many people, a container of hummus in the house won’t last long, but if you’re only an occasional enjoyer of hummus, you’ll want to keep it fresh and flavorful.
If your container of hummus is unopened and shelf-stable, you can keep it out on your countertop or in a cool cupboard or pantry (out of the direct sun) until it reaches its expiry date.
Once you open your hummus, you should keep it in the refrigerator. It should last for up to 7 days with no loss of flavor.
Can You Freeze Hummus?
Yes, any hummus can be frozen and thawed, but some turn out better than others.
A simple hummus, whether store-bought or homemade, will usually fare better than a fancy hummus that incorporates other ingredients like vegetables or red peppers.
A normal garlic and tahini hummus should be fine in your freezer for up to 6 months. Fancy hummus with many other ingredients can get mixed results when it comes to the freezer.
If you don’t want to take your chances, leave it sealed in the container at room temperature until you’re ready to eat it, and then consume it all within 7 days before it goes bad.
Hummus Nutritional Information
|Per 100g serving of hummus, according to the US Department of Agriculture|
Quick Table: Hummus Recipes
|Recipes||Preparation Time||Calories Per Servings|
|Lebanese Hummus Recipe||1 Hour 20 Minutes||439|
|Hummus Pizza||30 Minutes||251|
|Buffalo Chicken Hummus Dip||25 Minutes||143|
There are many different ways to make hummus, but this Lebanese recipe is one of the best. It’s simple, yet flavorful and perfect for dipping or spreading on your favorite foods.
To make it, you’ll need chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Simply combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
You can adjust the seasonings to taste and add more or less of each ingredient to get the perfect consistency. Serve with pita bread, vegetables, or crackers for a delicious and healthy snack.
Preparation Time: 1 Hour 20 Minutes
This dish is the perfect blend of two cultures – the flavorful, earthy spices of traditional Middle Eastern cuisine with the light, crispy crust of Italian pizza. The result is a unique and delicious pizza that is sure to please any crowd.
To make this pizza, start with traditional pizza dough. Then, spread on a generous layer of hummus. Be sure to use a good quality hummus, as this will make a big difference in the final flavor of the dish.
Add your favorite toppings, such as onions, olives, tomatoes, and feta cheese. Then bake according to your dough recipe’s instructions. This pizza is best served warm, straight out of the oven. Enjoy!
Preparation Time: 30 Minutes
Hummus is a great dip, but you can always improve on it by adding more flavors and ingredients to create a party dip that will wow people and stick in their memory.
This Buffalo Chicken hummus dip uses the rich and wholesome umami flavors of hummus, and blends in spices that will jump out on your tongue.
If you want a party dip that uses hummus but takes it to an entirely new level, this is the recipe for you.
Preparation Time: 25 Minutes
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Hummus Sweet Or Sour?
Hummus is savory and wholesome, without being particularly sweet or sour. There is a slight sweetness and nuttiness to the chickpeas and a tang from the lemon juice and tahini, but the taste of hummus overall is neither sweet nor sour – it is savory.
Is Hummus Good For Weight Loss?
There are a number of reasons to believe that if you are trying to lose weight, you should reach for chickpeas. They are high in protein and fiber, which will keep you full and satisfied longer, so you don’t go searching for snacks.
There are also studies linking higher intake of legumes like chickpeas with lower BMIs and smaller waist circumferences.
To get the most out of hummus for weight loss, you’ll still need to ration your intake. Hummus is lower in fat than other spreads and sauces, but it is far from lean or fat-free, with plenty of healthy fats coming from olive oil and tahini.
Can You Eat Hummus Straight?
It is customary to dip food into hummus, rather than eat directly with your finger or a spoon.
With that said, there is no one stopping you!
Many people enjoy hummus so much, they could eat it directly from the container rather than use it as a condiment. If you feel this way, you can go ahead and get some out of the container with your finger.
You can eat hummus however you want to, including straight, but public opinion since the 13th century has recommended using some other food to dip into hummus.
This could be the ubiquitous triangles of pita, fresh veggies cut up, crackers, or something else entirely.
Hummus doesn’t need a delivery system, but it benefits from one. The mixture of pita and hummus is classic, and eating one without the other just isn’t the same.
Why Is Restaurant Hummus So Good?
Hummus at a restaurant is made fresh rather than packaged with preservatives in a grocery store, but their secret to creamy and flavorful hummus isn’t that complicated, and it’s something you can probably master at home.
In restaurant kitchens, hummus is made by whipping the tahini and lemon juice together by themselves to form a froth and then painstakingly adding the chickpeas in small amounts until the hummus forms. This leads to a creamier, fattier, more delicious hummus.
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