What Is Hummus?

A short history of this healthy and delicious Middle Eastern dip


Hummus is a healthy, filling, and flavorful Middle Eastern mezze, which can be made and served many different ways, complementing many different dishes. However, its traditional recipe includes only a few ingredients: chickpeas, olive or sesame oil, garlic, and lemon juice. When tahini is added — as is very common these days in America — it is called hummus bi tahina. These ingredients are simple and cheap, which makes hummus an easy go-to snack to prepare at home or purchase. (Photo courtesy of flickr/tulumba)

The name developed from the Turkish word "humus," meaning mashed chickpeas. Both the dish and chickpeas originated in the Middle East, where the chickpea was been cultivated more than 7,000 years ago. Since the 19th century, hummus has spread to Greece, Turkey, and many other Middle Eastern countries. (Photo courtesy of flickr/Brice Snow)

Hummus has remained such a popular and prevalent dish mainly because of its health benefits. Its main ingredient, the chickpea, is a legume, which is extremely high in protein and a significant source of zinc and folate. Legumes are also very high in fiber and a good source of carbohydrates.

Chickpeas are low on the glycemic index, which makes them a perfect food for diabetics or people who have insulin sensitivity. Tahini, which is a sesame seed paste, has a considerable amount of the amino acid methionine, which contributes to hummus’ impressive protein content. When hummus is combined with bread, it is a complete protein, which makes it the quintessential food for vegans or vegetarians. (Photo courtesy of flickr/fadetowhite) 


Plus, it makes a fantastic snack for vegetarians, vegans, and omnivores alike.