Hummus is one of the oldest prepared foods in the world.

Its ingredients are some of the first to ever be propagated and are so widely available that variations claiming to be the first have been found throughout history ranging anywhere from Egypt to India, Greece to Syria, 10,000 BCE to the 1600s. Despite the age of the dish, one thing remains clear. Hummus is a staple of the Middle East with a growing popularity in the rest of the world.

These days, many supermarkets carry hummus in tubs ready for instant consumption, but the process of making hummus is very simple. It’s primary ingredients – chickpeas, garlic, tahini (or sesame seeds), and lemon – combined with any number of added garnishes and flavorings, are simply ground up into a paste and served. Classic additives include peppers, pine nuts, additional sesame seeds, ground meat, or simply oil.

In the Middle East, where the dish originates, many take the preparation of hummus and its origins very seriously. Arguments have been known to break out as to which country can claim its heritage and, while many will admit that there is little need to dispute who owns the recipe and simply to take pride in its preparation, there was even a period called the Hummus Wars by locals. Israel claimed ownership and Lebanon sued. What resulted was a battle to see who could make the largest dish of hummus known to man.

While this might seem silly, hummus is considered a big deal. It is a staple of Middle Eastern culture and a source of national pride for many who make it. Traditionally, hummus is served in a red ceramic bowl with a raised lip. Those who love the dish have even been known to claim that if it isn’t served in red ceramic, or even worse – served in plastic, it isn’t hummus. However, many agree: To truly make hummus all you need are the basic ingredients and a love of good food.

Written By

Elise Bellin