The word hummus, (which has various spellings) is an Arabic word meaning “chickpea.” Hummus is a Levantine Arab dip or spread that is made from chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) that have been cooked and mashed, then blended with tahini (a paste made from sesame seeds), olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Chickpeas are a vegetable that have been cultivated throughout the Middle East and India for thousands of years. Some sources say that they were growing in the gardens of Babylon.
Despite the fact that the exact known origin of hummus is unclear, we do know that the chickpeas, the main ingredient of hummus, were known to be cultivated in the ancient Mediterranean and the Middle East. Chickpeas have been around for human consumption for several thousands of years. The chickpea was consumed in ancient Palestine, and was one of the earliest crops in Mesopotamia, as well as a common food on the streets of ancient Rome. It is also known that the ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Socrates made reference to the nutritional value of hummus in their writings. Ancient recipes for hummus have also been discovered.
If those are the only two ingredients that are needed to make real Hummus bi tahini, then it’s orgin goes back to at least 13th century Cairo, when it appeared in a Medieval cookbook called Kitab Wasf al-Atima al-Mutada (Arabic for ‘The Description of Familiar Food’). However, in that cookbook, it is called “Hummus kasa.” This recipe uses vinegar and no lemon or garlic. If, in your definition, Hummus doesn’t even need tahini, there is a recipe from a Syrian Medieval cookbook Kitāb al-Wusla ilā l-habīb (also 13th century) that has pureed chickpeas and lemons.
Neither of these two recipes would have the taste that we call Hummus because they don’t have all of the four ingredients that are the hallmark flavors of today’s Hummus: chickpeas, tahini, garlic and lemon. If your standard is something that would taste similar to today’s Hummus, the first written record of modern Hummus bi tahini comes from 18th century Damascus, in what is now Syria. It suggests, however, that Hummus bi tahini is unknown outside Damascus. As recipes centuries older are quite close to Hummus bi tahini and the ingredients were around for a millenium, that is hard to believe.
More likely is that Hummus bi tahini only became a cultural staple with its current ingredients in the last couple centuries. But it was probably made outside the notice of cookbook writers beforehand. The Medieval cookbooks are not comprehensive. With slow transportation systems and no advanced communication systems, it was impossible to amass all the region’s recipes. At that time, regional food variations were much greater, and recipes were more reliant on what was available and affordable. Hummus bi tahini could have well existed but never entered a cookbook (few could write besides). As the main ingredients were used all over the Middle East and in Turkey, it could have been invented, forgotten and invented all over again.
You need only look at how old the ingredients are to see that Hummus bi tahini has an unwritten history that we may never fully understand. The ingredients have been in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East for thousands of years. The last major ingredient to arrive in the Middle East was lemons in 700 CE, but the primary two, chickpeas and tahini, extend back to the beginnings of civilization.
From archaeological digs, we know people have eaten chickpeas in the Middle East longer than there has been pottery, or approximately 10,000 years. That predates writing too. The tahini part of hummus, made from sesame seeds, has also been in the Middle East since ancient times. Sesame seeds were used to make sesame oil in food in Mesopotamia since 2500 BCE, so tahini is likely to be about that old. Nor was garlic preventing the creation of a food similar to modern Hummus, as it is as old as the ancient Egyptian pyramids of Giza.
Hummus is a useful food in vegan, vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets. When hummus is eaten with bread it serves as a complete protein, similar to other combinations of grains and legumes. Hummus is high in iron and vitаmin C, and has beneficial amounts of both vitamin B6 and folate. It is also a good source of protein, fiber and potassium. Due to the fact that chickpeas and sesame seeds are so beneficially healthy for us, and that it has been apart of the human diet for thousands of years, it is no wonder hummus has become known as a nutritionist’s delight.
Hummus was the perfect food for arid, rugged climates as it filled almost all of a person’s nutritional needs while still being exceptionally flavorful. In fact, hummus has enough protein and fiber to keep our bodies healthy for long periods of time. Also, this relatively simple food is amazingly rich in minerals and vitamins. I have added some greek yoghurt which makes it creamy and tasteful. Original recipe is a complete vegan recipe which you can turn into if yoghurt is avoided.
I’ve added sesame paste according to our taste buds preference. Stock also can be added according to the texture you prefer for the hummus. Lime juice, olive oil all can be taken according to one’s preference.
I make small batches of these and take the required quantity, use it adding the lime juice and olive oil. Hummus is my daughters favorite dinner and lunch option. When on diet mode, we have these with celery and carrots sticks which can be also had as mid day meal snack. A simple, tasty and healthy dip, this is a comforting satisfying dip which can be fulfilling too. Check out my website for the recipe of Beetroot hummus (http://simiskitchendiaries.
Wash and soak the chick peas in water for 6 hours.
Pressure cook adding 4 cups for 5 whistles.
Cool the cooked chickpeas and reserve the stock.
Add the chickpeas, reserved chickpea stock, sesame paste, garlic, yoghurt and salt. Blend fine and smooth.
Take the required quantity and add the lime juice and olive oil and mix up and enjoy with carrots, celery or pita bread,
Store the rest in airtight bottle and use as per your need.