Learning how to make hummus is easy, and the result is an appetizer that is less expensive and more delicious than the commercial variety. With one exception, the ingredients are easily found at most supermarkets. Tahini, or sesame butter, can be found at many large supermarkets, especially in areas with Middle Eastern populations.
What Is Hummus?
Hummus is a Middle Eastern appetizer made of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), garlic, olive oil, tahini, and lemon juice. It is usually served with warm pita bread wedges. Hummus is found on menus in Armenian, Greek, Israeli, Turkish, Lebanese, Persian and other Middle Eastern restaurants. Hummus can also be found in the delicatessen cases of supermarkets, reflecting its growing popularity.
How to Make Hummus
Many recipes for how to make hummus are available on the Internet and in cookbooks. However, the basic technique is the same across recipes. A food processor or blender speeds the preparation process and gives hummus the desired creamy texture. The ingredients can also be mashed by hand with a mortar and pestle. The basic ingredients for hummus are:
- Garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas) - canned or cooked from dry beans
- Fresh garlic cloves
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh lemon juice
- Tahini (sesame butter)
The ingredients are placed in a food processor or electric blender and processed until the end product is smooth and creamy. Chill before serving. Hummus can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days, but should be stirred vigorously before serving to assure that the ingredients are homogenous.
Tahini can usually be purchased at supermarkets in larger cities. If it is unavailable locally, it can be purchased at online stores, such as Amazon or The Spice Shop, among others. Some recipes substitute peanut butter for the tahini. This substitution will result in hummus that is sweeter and has a background reminiscent of peanuts rather than sesame seeds.
Hummus is usually served as a cold appetizer or first course. However, it may also be served as a major element of a Middle Eastern vegetarian plate, accompanying dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), falafel (fried chickpea balls), spanakopita (spinach pie), or other dishes. In some parts of the country, it turns up frequently as a party dip for chips or raw vegetables.
Consider adding any of the following ingredients to the finished hummus:
- Chopped ripe or green olives
- Chopped artichoke hearts
- Roasted sweet red pepper
- Roasted eggplant
- Roasted hot pepper
- Ground pine nuts
- Chopped cucumber and fresh dill
To present hummus, pile it on a small plate or place it in a bowl and smooth it or swirl it, as desired. Additional olive oil may drizzled on top. Sprinkle or stencil paprika on top of smoothed hummus. Any of the following toppings may be added:
- Chopped artichoke heart
- Chopped raw or roasted red or green sweet pepper
- Toasted pine nuts
- Chopped cucumber
Provide any of the following with hummus when it is served as a party dip:
- Raw vegetables, such as baby carrots, cauliflower, celery, or cucumber (crisp vegetables are best with hummus)
- White or wholegrain pita wedges
- White or wholegrain mini pitas
- Baked pita chips, salted or unsalted
- Whole grain crackers
- Tortilla chips
Hummus is a high protein snack or appetizer. It also contains olive oil, which is a desirable fat. While some snacks provide empty calories, hummus adds to daily nutrition. If fresh, raw vegetables or wholegrain pita bread is served with the hummus, the nutrition value of the snack is further improved. If the total calorie count is an issue, avoid fried chips. Depending on the recipe, two tablespoons of hummus provide approximately 50 to 100 calories.
Recipes for Hummus
Hummus has become so popular one cookbook is entirely devoted to how to make hummus and related items. Middle Eastern cookbooks also include hummus recipes:
- Hummus: And 65 Other Delicious & Healthy Chickpea Recipes
- The New Book of Middle Eastern Food
- The Book of New Israeli Food: A Culinary Journey
Many hummus recipes can also be found on the Internet. Here are just a few:
- Turbo Hummus - This recipe by Alton Brown on the Food Network uses peanut butter instead of tahini
- Basic hummus
- Basic hummus
Serve tasty, garlicky hummus as an appetizer, party dip or a snack. Hummus is a healthy treat that can be enjoyed by vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores of all ages. For some, it may take a few tries to appreciate both the flavor and texture of hummus, but everyone is sure to agree on its nutritional value.