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Hummus (also spelled houmous) is one of the most popular Middle Eastern spreads. Part of any good breakfast table in countries like Jordan, Lebanon or Egypt, hummus has become an absolute crowd pleaser across the globe. Authentic hummus is very easy to make as long as you pay attention to a few details.
Let me show you how to make traditional Middle Eastern Hummus at home that you’ll make on repeat. You’ll also get plenty of tips on how to serve and store it.
What is Hummus?
Hummus (also spelled humus or houmous) is a Middle Eastern chickpea dip. In fact, hummus is the Arabic word for chickpea. The creamy chickpea dip originated in the 13th century and has become a popular dish even far beyond the Middle East.
But why is hummus so popular? First of all, it’s particularly filling and nutritious. Chickpeas are rich in fibers and healthy proteins. Naturally vegan and gluten free, hummus is a healthy alternative to dairy based spreads.
Secondly, hummus is really easy to prepare. All you need are a few pantry staples, and basic equipment. Last but not least, hummus is just delicious, which is probably the main reason why it has become so popular.
Many Middle Eastern recipes are based on centuries-old traditional methods. Authentic hummus only needs a few basic ingredients and is easy to prepare. Hummus is naturally vegetarian and vegan.
There are plenty of modern variations of this Arabic classic. I’ll show you the authentic hummus recipe that you’ll find in Jordan, Lebanon or Egypt.
- Dried Chickpeas: The key to authentic hummus are dried chickpeas. While canned chickpeas will work out for this recipe, I cannot emphasize this enough: use dried chickpeas for the best hummus. They need to be soaked overnight (at least 12 hours, better 20-24), and then boiled for about 1.5 hours. While this might seem a little tedious, it will be worth it. Trust me.
- Tahini: The second key ingredient to Middle Eastern hummus is tahini. Tahini is a creamy paste made from ground sesame. While sesame (similar to nuts) are naturally high in oil, tahini is high in antioxidants, vitamin B and E and healthy fats. It’s also known for its high anti-inflammatory properties and other health benefits. There are plenty of reasons to include tahini in your diet – and hummus is a perfect way to do so. Make sure to use a high-quality tahini.
- Water: Use ice-cold tap water to make your hummus creamy.
- Garlic: Use garlic cloves instead of powdered garlic. Simply peel, cut off the ends and add to the food processor. Your hummus will have a subtle garlic taste, but you can add more garlic according to your likings. Hummus also works without garlic, in case you don’t like it.
- Lemon: Lemon adds the perfect flavor to your hummus. You can use freshly squeezed lemons or bottled lemon juice. To extend shelf life, citric acid is a great alternative to lemon juice.
- Baking Soda: Baking soda is a bit of a secret ingredient to hummus. It will bring your hummus to the next level. The science behind baking soda is that it increases the pH level of the water which results in softer chickpeas. Ultimately, soft chickpeas will make your hummus much creamier, and therefore much tastier.
Last but not least, you might want to garnish your hummus. Hummus is traditionally topped with a generous amount of olive oil when serving. You can also sprinkle some sumac or chopped parsley leaves for an authentic Middle Eastern presentation.
Note: Quantities can be found in the recipe card at the end of this recipe and can be adjusted according to the amount of servings you’d like to make.
How to Make Hummus (Step-by-Step)
Step 1: Soak the chickpeas
Same as with falafel or any other Arabic chickpea dish, dried chickpeas work a lot better than canned options. Place the dried chickpeas in a bowl and add at least triple the quantity in cold water. Soak overnight (at least 12 hours, better 20-24 hours).
Step 2: Drain and rinse
The chickpeas will double in size by the next day. Drain them in a colander and rinse well.
Step 3: Boil the chickpeas
Place the chickpeas into a large saucepan. Add plenty of water. I usually add 2 litres (8 US cups) of water for 200 g (1 US cup) of chickpeas. Boil on high for 30 minutes.
Step 4: Add baking soda
Reduce to medium heat. Add baking soda to the saucepan. The baking soda will foam, so make sure the saucepan is large enough. Boil for another 60 minutes. The chickpeas will become very soft to mushy which is key to a perfectly creamy hummus.
Step 5: Drain the chickpeas
Remove from the stove. Drain the cooked chickpeas in a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside for at least 1 hour. The chickpeas should be completely cool before you proceed further.
Step 6: Peel the garlic
Peel a garlic clove, cut off the ends and add to a food processor.
Step 7: Blend garlic and chickpeas
Add the chickpeas into the food processor. Blend garlic and chickpeas for about 2-3 minutes. You won’t get a perfectly creamy mixture at this point. The idea is to blend garlic and chickpeas prior to adding the liquid ingredients to avoid any large bits in the mixture.
Step 8: Add tahini, lemon, water and salt
Add tahini paste, water, sea salt and lemon to the food processor. Blend for another 2 minutes until all the ingredients are well mixed. You’ll get a uniformly creamy and smooth mixture. If it’s your first time making hummus, have a quick taste. You can add more salt or lemon according to your taste.
Step 9: Serve
Scrape into a flat bowl or small plate. You can eat the hummus right away or cool it before serving (the consistency will improve when it’s cooled for 1 hour before serving). Garnish with olive oil, sumac powder or finely-chopped parsley leaves.
How to Serve Hummus
Serve on a flat bowl or small plate. Cool for about 1 hour before serving, as the consistency will improve when it’s cooled. To serve hummus the Middle Eastern way, add plenty of olive oil on top and sprinkle with sumac or chopped parsley.
What to Eat with Hummus
In Jordan as well as most countries in the Middle East, hummus is part of a healthy and filling breakfast. As a mezze (appetizer), you will often find it served for lunch and dinner too.
Below are some Middle Eastern dishes that pair perfectly with hummus:
- Bread (e.g. pita bread)
- Salads (e.g. tabbouleh or fattoush)
- Grilled meat or fish (Kebab, grilled chicken…)
- Other Middle Eastern dips (e.g. moutabal, muhammara…)
In Western countries, hummus is popular as a vegan alternative to traditional spreads. Admittedly, it pairs really well with crackers, vegetables (grilled or raw) and even as a spread on sandwiches and toast.
Make Ahead & Storage
Your effort to make hummus from scratch is definitely worth it, as hummus is a great candidate for meal prep. I usually make a large bowl of hummus every weekend to eat during the week (sometimes even for my lovely neighbors).
Hummus can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. You can even prolong the storage time (up to 6-7 days) using citric acid instead of lemon juice.
Any Questions or Feedback?
If you liked this recipe, I’d appreciate it if you could leave a star rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ below. In case you’ve any questions or feedback, please leave me a comment (down the page). I’m happy to help you make delicious Middle Eastern food at home.
Hummus (Middle Eastern)
- 200 g (1 cups) dried chickpeas
- 200 g (3/4 cups) tahini sesame paste
- 150 ml (2/3 cups) ice cold water
- 2 lemons or bottled lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp olive oil for garnish
- 1 pinch sumac for garnish
- 2-3 parsley leaves for garnish
- Soak the chickpeas in water (1:3) for at least 20-24 hours.
- Drain the soaked chickpeas in a colander and rinse with cold water.
- Transfer the chickpeas to a saucepan, add water. Boil on high for 30 minutes.
- Reduce to medium. Add baking soda. Boil for another 60 minutes.
- Drain the chickpeas in a colander. Let cool for 1 hour.
- Peel a garlic clove. Add to the food processor.
- Add chickpeas to the food processor. Blend garlic and chickpeas into a smooth mixture.
- Add tahini, water, sea salt and lemon juice (freshly squeezed or bottled) to the food processor. Blend for another 2 minutes until smooth.
- Transfer into a flat bowl or plate. Garnish with olive oil, sumac and parsley leaves.
- The nutritional values are rough indications. They can vary according to the exact weight, type and brand of your ingredients.
Below you’ll find the answers to the most commonly asked questions on hummus, from fun facts to preparation tips and tricks.
What is hummus?
Hummus (also spelled houmous) is a hugely popular spread originating in the Middle East in the 13th century. Delicious, healthy and filling, hummus has become an absolute crowd pleaser around the globe.
What is hummus made of?
Traditional Middle Eastern hummus is made of a few simple ingredients: chickpeas, tahini, salt, lemon, water, garlic and olive oil (for garnish).
What to eat with hummus?
Hummus pairs well with falafel, another chickpea-based Middle Eastern dish. The spread is also great in combination with bread, crackers, tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots.
What does hummus taste like?
Thanks to one of its key ingredients tahini, hummus has a pleasantly nutty note. Depending on the amount of lemon and garlic added, the taste can vary.
How long does hummus last?
Homemade hummus can be stored in the fridge for at least 4-5 days.
How to eat hummus?
In the Middle East, we traditionally eat hummus with bread, alongside mezze or main dishes. It’s also popular for sandwiches, such as a delicious falafel sandwich. In many Western countries, it’s common to dip hummus in cucumbers, carrots or even crackers.
Where did hummus originate?
Hummus originated in the Middle East in the 13th century. It’s believed that it originated in Egypt.