A traditional Middle Eastern meal is spread before the family and guests. Among the delicacies on the table is a dip or spread called "Hummus." Hummus is the Arabic word for "chickpea" which is widely known today at the Garbanzo Bean. Garbanzo is the Spanish translation of the word meaning "chickpea."
Hummus is one of the oldest foods known, dating back to Egypt over 7,000 years ago. It is a popular food in Greek and Syrian cultures as well. If you like Middle Eastern food you'll know that Hummus comes in many different forms and has many different flavors.
The ingredients are pretty much standard, but the distinctive flavors are the ones that change. Today you can purchase pre-made Hummus in the deli section of many grocery stores and these range from sun-dried tomato to garlic to spicy pepper flavor.
In traditional Syrian cooking the recipe is very simple; cooked and mashed garbanzo beans (chickpeas), sesame tahini (sesame paste), garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. This is traditionally served as an appetizer with hot, fresh pita bread or pita chips, and/or fresh veggies. Hummus is also good on pita bread sandwiches as the spread to hold your favorite lamb, pork, beef, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and sprouts.
The possibilities are endless.
Because Hummus is made of a legume, it is a healthy alternative and it can be very filling.
If you are on a restricted diet, more and more nutritionists suggest that you have Hummus and fresh veggies as your afternoon snack. This can help your body to be healthier because of the properties of the legumes and low-fat and high fiber this particular dish presents.
However, when serving Hummus it is important to think of the presentation of the dip/spread. Because Hummus is a drab beige color it needs to be served in a colorful bowl surrounded by colorful veggies like red and green peppers, cauliflower, baby carrots and celery sticks. People associate bright colors with good taste, so it's important to present the Hummus in such a way that it is appealing to the eye. A great way to spice it up is to sprinkle thinly sliced green onions and black olives on the top to make it really appealing to those who will be partaking of this appetizer.
Hummus is also very good served as a garnish on fresh pears. To make a healthy dessert, take halved pears (canned are ok) and put a small teaspoon of hummus in the hole from the pear pit. Serve with sliced apples for garnish. This is a great dessert and one that people will rave about.
If you make your own Hummus, don't be afraid to experiment with different recipes. You can also purchase different varieties, either pre-made or in dry goods form. The only limit here in how Hummus is used is your imagination. Be creative and you'll discover lots of ways to serve and eat Hummus.