A History Of The Love Affair Between Israelis And Hummus

Hummus Abu Dhabi | Courtesy of Rebecca Carmi
Hummus Abu Dhabi | Courtesy of Rebecca Carmi
Photo of Andie Himmelrich
12 October 2016

The way to any Israeli‘s heart is through a big bowl of delicious hummus and warm pita for dipping. But ever wonder where this creamy spread originated? Here, we will give you a brief history on hummus.

Hummus is an arabic word meaning ‘chickpea’, which makes sense considering hummus is a spread made out of cooked and mashed chickpeas. The chickpeas are then blended together with tahini, a paste made out of sesame seeds, and then olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt are all added on top.

Many places around the world claim to be the place where this staple food originated, and honestly, no one really knows where it all started. But what is known is that hummus is made out of chickpeas, and chickpeas were known to be cultivated in the Mediterranean. Chickpeas were one of the earliest crops, and people in the Middle East have eaten chickpeas longer than there has been certain artifacts like pottery (approximately 10,000 years). Purées also date back many years and were written about in many ancient Middle Eastern cookbooks.

Abu Hassan Hummus | Courtesy of Alix Kron

Although there is not much known about where hummus came from, it is very old, helping fans appreciate how the tasty spread has been loved for so many years. Hummus is nutritious, healthy, filling and cheap! What more could you possibly ask for?

Hummus comes in all textures, presentations and tastes. You will find hummus in most of your Israeli sandwiches and pitas. You can also enjoy hummus with pita dipped in or, if you prefer, a slice of raw onion. Hummus in Israel is usually served in three variations: plain, with tehina or masabacha – where the chickpeas are cooked longer and remain whole. Everyone has their own way to indulge in hummus and not one way is correct. You should try them all.

Hebrew Hummus | Courtesy of Kobi Vaknin

Ask anyone in the Tel Aviv area for the best hummus and they will most likely send you over to Jaffa. Abu Hassan is a traditional favorite. Only three kinds of hummus on the menu is all they need. Many people will claim it is the best hummus in Israel. Another favorite among many is a new place, Hebrew Hummus (חומוסיה עברית). It’s a family business, and they have many unique and tasty varieties – like almond or mushroom. If you are around the Jerusalem area, check out Azura, located right by the market place. This hidden gem of a restaurant is a true delight.

Hummus | Courtesy of Julia Purcell

Hummus in Israel is not an appetizer – it is a meal, so enjoy it to the fullest (and it will fill you up). Treat yourself to the best hummus you will ever have. Enough of that branded stuff – go Israeli hummus.

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