On 13th May, the world will celebrate International Hummus Day. Whilst hummus is purported to have been ‘invented’ in the 13th Century by the Egyptians, there has been somewhat of a war between Lebanon, Israel (and any other countries where chickpeas are grown in abundance!), to the extent that a fierce competition erupted for the biggest plate of hummus ever made! It appears though, that Lebanon have edged into the lead! A plate of hummus weighing over 4,500lbs was the winning result. That is one helluva lot of hummus. For the sake of ease, let us just call its origination ‘Levantine’, which means originating from the Eastern Mediterranean or the Middle East.
What is Hummus?
Hummus, as most people probably know, is made from chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, lemon juice and garlic, and each family have their own way of creating what appears to be such a simple dip. Whilst some think of it as an acquired taste, or that it is bland or uninteresting, you may be interested to know that right here, right now, over 50 percent of Europeans will have a tub in their fridge!
Hummus has not stayed as it was since the 13th Century, far from it. You can now get roasted vegetable, blueberry, carrot and caraway, pumpkin, beetroot – shall I go on? It seems to me that you can pick anything, cook it (where necessary) mash it up with a few herbs and spices and voila! You have hummus. A drop of honey does also not go amiss either! However, I do draw a huge black line through chocolate hummus, perish the thought…
Children appear to love hummus – in fact in a survey conducted about child nutrition in the UK, hummus dip with carrot, celery and cucumber sticks was a popular choice for a take-in lunchbox. Considering that British school dinners have a bad ‘rep’, it is not surprising.
There is no doubt that hummus is relatively healthy, with a good dose of plant-based protein, unsaturated fat, low carbohydrate level and essential fibre, it is a good choice.
Hummus Fun Facts
Let us look at some fun facts on hummus: Its popularity in the US has become so widespread, that tobacco farming is slowly but surely being replaced by chickpea production, even though middle eastern varieties are still the most popular in supermarkets.
Celebrity Hummus Eaters
There have also been movies made about hummus (honestly). Whilst they never exactly break box office records, they have a cult following. Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry and Lady GaGa, may even be seen in their nearest Kroger supermarket, one of the largest in the US) stocking up as worshippers do – they are all huge fans. The hummus industry enjoyed $1 billion worth of sales in 2020, and it is still a rising market.
Whilst most of us will regard hummus as a ‘pot of beige-y stuff that you dip things into’, the use of hummus has increased. It is inexpensive to make, and you can adjust the flavour as much as you want. It can be used as a substitute for mayo (not sure about that one!), a spread, or diluted with water for a salad dressing. My personal favourite is to take a piece of fish, make diagonal cuts and fill with lemon slices before you spread the hummus over then bake the fish. With a few herbs or a bit of spice (sumac is great), it really can elevate the flavour.
As you can see, I am a hummus lover, but as a chef in the past, I do love fiddling with flavours, so take it up a notch and I am sure you will learn to love it as well.
Think you can’t make a soup out of hummus ingredients? Indeed you can! Check out this Creamy Vegan Chickpea and Quinoa soup recipe.