On the surface, hummus might seem simple. Humble. After all, at its core, it’s usually only four ingredients, whizzed together to make a smooth, silky cream. Chickpeas, of course, plus tahini, olive oil and garlic. But there’s a reason hummus has been around since the 13th century and is still so alive and well today that it was named Bon Appétit’s Dish of the Year in 2015: it’s absolutely bloody delicious. It’s also versatile, easy to whip up at home, and relatively healthy. Put it on a mezze plate with warm falafels, pickles and pita bread. Slather it on roast eggplant and scatter some pomegranate seeds on top. Add it to your slow-cooked lamb shanks. Or serve it Nutella-style, in a jar, with a spoon. We don’t think anyone will mind.
How to celebrate International Hummus Day
First, go to hummusday.com to find out more.
Mix up your hummus. In Egypt, it’s flavoured with cumin, while Israelis add paprika. In Palestine, mint and parsley are often added, and in Jordan, yoghurt is sometimes used in place of tahini. For extra creaminess, follow Turkey’s lead and use butter instead of olive oil.
Start a hummus war. Okay, not really. But we do encourage a little friendly competition (as well as ample hummus-eating opportunities). In the Middle East, the ‘hummusia’ is an institution on par with, say, the Australian pub, and as Yotam Ottolenghi writes, “I have personally witnessed little wars breaking out between the most civilised of people concerning their favourite hummus joints.” In the spirit of (friendly) rivalry, have a hummus competition of your own and see who reigns supreme.
Go smooth. Really smooth. Bon Appétit reckons the best hummus in America is found at Dizengoff, in Philadelphia. The secret ingredient used by chef Michael Solomonov? Baking soda. Adding a little to the water you soak your chickpeas in, and then again to the pot you boil the beans in, raises the pH of the liquid, helping it break the beans down more effectively. Solomonov also pre-whips his tahini with lemon juice, garlic and ice water before adding it to his pureed chickpeas and olive oil. This creates a thick, creamy emulsion which adds to the smoothness of the hummus.
Hummus recipes we love
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s version uses roast parsnip, carrot and sweet potato. It’s not traditional, but it’s incredibly tasty.
Spike your minced lamb with the flavours of the Middle East and serve it with this rich, comforting hummus. All that’s missing is a round of flatbread.
A more traditional recipe, scented with heady cumin and topped with toasty pine nuts.
Middle Eastern nachos? Basically, we’re in.
If you want more hummus on your plate, check out our recipe collection here.