Hummus: the splendour and the taste

800px-Hummus_from_The_Nile Credit Paul GoyetteBelieved to be one of the most ancient foods known to civilisation, hummus is both delicious and very healthy. It’s also not that difficult to make, though a special “touch” is required to make it taste superb. My mother-in-law Sally has that ability (more on Mum below), however it’s a fairly basic recipe that anyone can try and deliver great results. The fact that it can be made quickly and easily at home is important as much of the store-bought version of the dish is often blanded down, has preservatives and sugar added and is an inferior taste to the homemade version!

The name comes from the Arabic word for chickpea and is used in the countries throughout the region as a dip or spread. Its history is as interesting as the history of the Middle East region itself and there are a number of traditional stories which place hummus as one one of the first known prepared dishes. Both Plato and Socrates made mention of the dish and the chickpea is known to have been cultivated since Ancient times as a source of food and nutrition.

Marrying into a Lebanese family has given me the chance to taste the best-tasting hummus, possibly in the world! Far superior to the shop bought versions. As a young man first going out with my future wife, I’d often take the opportunity to steal into the kitchen to watch how Mum would prepare the most amazing Lebanese food for a family feast. This usually involved a mix of Australian-style foods (made for those of the family like me, who were unfamiliar with Middle Eastern flavours and spices) and staples such as kibbeh, stuffed grape vine leaves and, of course, hummus. Mum’s version is simple, yet stunning, consisting of chickpeas soaked overnight (never the canned ones), mixed in a food processor with tahini, lemon, garlic and served with a dressing of olive oil.

It took only a few visits to the family gatherings for me to swap the roasts and veggies for the amazing Lebanese fare, with hummus high on my new taste favourite list.

Hummus — and the humble chickpea — have become well known as one of the world’s most nutritious foods. It is rich in healthy fats, and more filling and satisfying than other spreads or dips. With a taste like nuts, consumption of the chickpea has been associated with better health. According to an extensive nutrient survey, chickpeas and hummus are associated with:

“…a better nutrient profile, diet quality, lower BMI and WC, and lower risk of obesity and of high WC than seen in non-consumers. There was also a lower likelihood of elevated fasting glucose levels.”

There is also some evidence that chickpea/hummus consumption assists in the fight against certain cancers, possibly because of its strengthening of cell division in the body.

“Chickpeas in hummus may help reduce your cancer risk,” said Jennifer Fitzgibbon, a registered oncology dietitian at the Stony Brook University Cancer Centre to LiveScience.

Hummus contains B vitamins, protein, dietary fibre, manganese and many other nutrients. However many of the commercial varieties also contain sugar so always try making your own version of this time-honoured dish. If you’re interested in trying some delicious and healthy wholefoods and would like to make your own hummus, check out this easy recipe here at Kitchn.


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