Hummus is a food our family can’t get enough of. It’s delicious, nutritious, and can be paired with practically anything (pita or flatbread, crackers, cucumbers, and more). Love it or hate it, this dip has been a staple food in the Middle East since the 13th century.
While there are ongoing debates about which culture invented hummus, it’s widely believed to have first originated in Egypt since historians have found ancient recipes from that period involving pureed chickpeas, vinegar, lemon, herbs, and other spices.
Today, we want to give you a taste of history with our hummus recipe, found in our Project Passport: Ancient Egypt. This is an excellent historical recipe to include when studying Middle Eastern culture with your kids.
Why Include Historical Recipes in Your Curriculum?
It’s no secret – kids love food! What better way to teach history than to include a recipe from the era they’re learning about? We’ve found that hands-on learners love this method of teaching because it helps them use their sense of taste, smell, and sight to learn about a particular person or event.
For example, if your child is learning about Abraham Lincoln, have them make our Lincoln’s Cake Recipe, found in our Time Travelers: Civil War series. This is an excellent way for kids to feel connected to President Lincoln beyond just dates and facts. By dressing up like him and eating his favorite cake, they’ll be sure to remember this president in a more personal way.
After all, isn’t this why history can be difficult for children to learn? If there’s no personal connection and it seems unrelatable to their lives, it won’t stick, and they’ll categorize it as unimportant and boring.
By including hands-on projects like recipes, dress-up, creative writing newspapers, lapbooks, and timelines, your children will appreciate learning on a deeper level. As once said by Charlotte Mason, “The question is not — how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education — but, how much does he care?”.
What is Hummus?
Hummus is an ancient dip/spread that is made from mashed chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. The word “hummus” in Arabic means “chickpeas.” Its fully prepared name in Arabic is ḥummuṣ bi ṭaḥīna, which means “chickpeas with tahini.”
Its main ingredient, chickpeas, is an incredibly healthy, nutrient-dense food filled with protein, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, iron, potassium, and manganese.
Traditionally, hummus is served on a plate or in a clay bowl with a raised edge. This smooth, rich, and creamy dip is typically drizzled with olive oil and topped with herbs. It’s best known to be paired with fresh pita, cucumber, tomato, salad, or falafel.
Hummus in America
In the past decade, hummus has dramatically risen in popularity in the United States. According to Today, it’s estimated that 25% of American homes now stock their fridge with hummus.
In fact, “To keep pace with the boom, American farmers have quadrupled their production of chickpeas in recent years, churning out more than 100 million pounds last year, up from about 25 million pounds in 2009.”
Unlike in America, hummus has been consumed for centuries. Charlie Sahadi, the owner of the famous hummus brand Sahadi’s, stated that “hummus is almost peasant food in the Middle East because it’s something everyone can afford and everyone likes.”
Today, you can find hummus in practically every grocery store. However, it’s just as quick and simple to make at home.
The Origins of Hummus
The debate on which culture first invented hummus continues to be an ongoing battle. In fact, hummus is said to be a food that is “claimed by all and owned by none.”
Many cultures claim to be the rightful owner of this unique dip, including Greeks, Arabs, Israelis, Lebanese, Egyptians, Syrians, and Palestinians.
Chickpeas were grown in abundance in the fertile areas of the Middle East, which is why the origins of this food get murky. It’s likely that any Middle Eastern culture could have invented hummus.
So, which genius culture first invented hummus?
No one can say for sure, but it’s likely that the Egyptians first made this dip due to the fact that they have the oldest documented recipe found from the 13th century. However, Egyptians often traded with other cultures from the Middle East, so it’s possible that they adopted this dish from someone else.
We’re drawn to say that, in the end, it doesn’t matter, but many cultures are continuing to debate over the ownership of hummus.
According to CNN, The “Hummus War” began in 2008 when Lebanon accused Israel of stealing their culture’s legacy, publicity, and money (aka hummus). The president of the Association of Lebanese Industrialists sued Israel for infringement of food-copyright laws. However, both sides’ efforts were unsuccessful since neither had documented proof.
To try to prove their rightful ownership, Lebanon set out to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records with the largest plate of hummus, weighing around 2,000 kg. Israel responded to this outrageous act by making 4,000 kgs of hummus served in a satellite dish. Finally, in 2010, Lebanon settled the matter by making 10,452 kgs of hummus (the number of square kilometers in Lebanon).
How to Make Hummus
Hummus is incredibly simple and affordable to make. It’s also gluten-free and dairy-free, which makes it the perfect snack for those with dietary restrictions. By following our ancient Egyptian hummus recipe below, found in our Project Passport: Ancient Egypt, you’ll be able to whip up some in no time!
- 1 can chickpeas (approx. 2 c.)
- 1⁄2 c. tahini (sesame paste)
- 1⁄4 c. lemon juice
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1⁄2 tsp. salt
- 1-1⁄2 tsp. cumin
- 1⁄4 c. olive oil
- 1-2 tbsp. parsley, minced
- Place chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, salt, cumin, and garlic in a food processor.
- Begin to puree, drizzling in olive oil until blended smooth (add water if you desire thinner consistency).
- Scoop hummus into a bowl and garnish with parsley and sprinkle with paprika.
- Use it as a dip with pita chips or veggies, or as a sandwich spread on pita bread.
More Historical Recipes and Resources
We hope you enjoyed learning the history behind hummus and include it in one of your history lessons. If you decide to make our Ancient Egyptian hummus recipe, be sure to share it with our Facebook page, or tag us on Instagram.
If you’re looking for more historical recipes, most of our products include recipes in one way or another. We cover a wide variety of eras, including Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, The Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation, and more.
Check out our website to find the era you’re looking for!