Middle Eastern

Eat Hummus for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner (But Please Don't Turn it into Dessert)

May 12, 2016

As if we don’t already do enough promotion for hummus (example A), now we have International Hummus Day dedicated to our insane love for this simple dish.

Although the "holiday," started by Ben Lang in Tel-Aviv, is still very new (celebrating only its fifth year of existence this Friday), hummus has been consumed in the Middle East for centuries. Ben, co-founder of the company Mapme, wanted to bring that part of the world together: “We were inspired by Nutella Day. Thought we needed a version for the Middle East, hence hummus.” Thanks Ben. You’re so right.

Hummus is as controversial as politics. Back in 2008, Lebanon tried to claim the term hummus as its own—the Association of Lebanese Industrialists went so far as to threaten legal action in order to stop Israel from selling hummus under the name. The next year, Israel and Lebanon competed to break the world record for single largest hummus plate. But, funny enough, hummus is one thing that (at least sometimes) brings the Middle East together. It doesn’t matter if it’s an Arab- or Israeli-run hummus place: Everyone is welcome. The debate over which shop makes the best hummus, however, is a different story...

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The word hummus translates to "chickpea" in Arabic. This brings me to the part where I tell you that if there are no chickpeas in your hummus, it’s not actually hummus: It’s just a dip. Sorry Trader Joe’s White Bean Hummus… not a hummus. I’ll go as far as saying that you can flavor hummus with roasted garlic, sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, herbs, or spices. But hummus made from edamame… not a hummus. I’m sorry! Top it with all the awesome things, but hummus is made from chickpeas. That’s not to say that your black bean dip isn’t delicious... it’s just not a hummus.

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Top Comment:
“Hummus absolutely deserves this honor! My usual additions are cilantro, thai peppers, roasted red bell peppers and mint.”
— Annada R.
Comment

[Editors' note: Some commenters on Genius Chard Stalk "Hummus" would agree.]

Don't ask me about dessert hummus (see explanation above), but hummus as a meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner is totally legitimate. In the U.S., we're used to hummus as a cold tub from the grocery store that we snack on during work with a side of baby carrots.

In the Middle East, hummus is a whole meal served warm for breakfast or lunch with a side of pickles and pita. It’s filling and cheap. Hummusiot, hummus joints, are as abundant in Israel as the corner pizza shop is in NYC. The best ones have lines that go down the street. Breakfast could be a plate of hummus with warm chickpeas and a hard boiled egg. For lunch or dinner, try a plate of hummus with sautéed mushrooms or grilled meat.

Authentic hummus is made from dried chickpeas. Canned are okay, but using dried garbanzos will usually result in a better-tasting hummus (and one free from preservatives). Just as important as the chickpeas, is the tahini. Use the best quality tahini—pure sesame paste—that you can find. And my rule is: The more tahini, the better the hummus.

So get ready because International Hummus Day is upon us! Start by soaking your chickpeas and making a real homemade, classic hummus. Top it with whatever is fresh at the farmers' market! A good vegetable-topped hummus is both delicious and perfect for spring. Asparagus, radishes, favas, beets, morels, sautéed spinach, charred scallions, herb-filled tabbouleh salad, kohlrabi… the list is endless.

This recipe, for hummus topped with grilled Aleppo asparagus and a tangy sumac radish salad, screams spring:

Do you like your hummus plain and simple, or do you top it with all sorts of doodads? And if so, which ones? Tell us in the comments below!

7 Comments

cherylv August 1, 2017
Garlic?
 
Kathy M. February 28, 2017
I like to stir in finely chopped kalamata olives. Their salty flavor adds dimension and flavor!
 
christine May 13, 2016
I have never made hummus with baking soda nor ever seen it in another recipe. What does it add to the mix? thanks
 
VeganWithaYoYo May 13, 2016
Baking soda alkalinizes the cooking water and/or soaking water, which helps the chickpeas become softer while cooking and makes for smoother hummus. Ottolenghi swears by it, as does Kenji over at The Food Lab at Serious Eats. I hate to say I've never made hummus without it to know if it's an improvement, but my hummus with it is pretty smooth!
 
christine May 13, 2016
ok thanks!
 
Sarah E. May 12, 2016
hooray!!
 
Annada R. May 12, 2016
Hummus absolutely deserves this honor! My usual additions are cilantro, thai peppers, roasted red bell peppers and mint.