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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 with this step-by-step recipe.
What is Hummus?
Hummus (houmous) is a dip which originated in the Middle East in the 13rd century. It’s made of a few basic ingredients, with chickpeas being the main ingredient.
In Jordan as well as most countries in the Middle East, hummus is part of a healthy and filling breakfast. Hummus forms a dreamteam with falafel, the famous Arabic chickpea balls. Since it pairs well with bread and many other dishes, it often accompanies lunch and dinner, too.
Many Middle Eastern recipes are based on centuries-old traditional methods. Traditional 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 Salt: Lemon adds the perfect flavour to your hummus. Many recipes suggest fresh lemon. That’s okay if you plan on eating your hummus the same day. However, fresh lemon juice changes its taste when stored for several days, causing your hummus to become bitter. I recommend that you use lemon salt instead of fresh lemon juice as it won’t affect the taste when stored over several days.
- Baking Soda: Baking soda is a bit of a secret ingredient to hummus. That’s why you won’t find it in most traditional hummus recipes. However, 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.
- Ingredients for Garnish: Garnish your dish with a few basic ingredients to make it look more appealing. Most families add some olive oil on top (extra virgin olive oil) which also adds to the taste. You can also add a few (boiled) chickpeas, a pinch of sumac powder or chopped parsley leaves.
Note: The exact quantities (according to the amount of servings) can be found in the recipe card at the end of this recipe.
Traditional Hummus Recipe Step-by-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).
2. Drain and rinse
The chickpeas will double in size by the next day. Drain them in a colander and rinse well.
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.
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.
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.
6. Peel the garlic
Peel a garlic clove, cut off the ends and add to a food processor.
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.
8. Add tahini, water and salts
Add tahini paste, water, sea salt and lemon salt 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 salt according to your taste.
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 parsley leaves.
Hummus (Middle Eastern)
- 200 g dried chickpeas
- 200 g tahini paste
- 150 ml ice cold water
- 1 garlic clove
- 1.5 tsp lemon salt
- 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 salt 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 (salt), 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 (salt) and garlic added, the taste can vary.
How long does hummus last?
It largely depends on whether you use fresh lemon or lemon salt. Fresh lemon will result in a slightly bitter taste, while lemon salt won’t affect the taste. Store in the fridge for 5 days.
How to eat hummus?
In the Middle East, we traditionally eat hummus with bread, as a spread. 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.