Traditional hummus recipes are made with tahini which is a sesame seed paste. It has a wonderful nutty flavor but also a touch of bitterness which probably explains why some children don't like it. There are also those who suffer from a sesame allergy and, consequently, can't eat traditional hummus. Fortunately, it's totally possible to make hummus without the tahini.
Hummus is a dip/spread that is made from chickpeas and, in fact, hummus is the Arabic word for chickpea. You may notice that many hummus recipes call for garbanzo beans, not chickpeas. Garbanzo is the Spanish translation of chickpea. They are called cece beans in Italy.
Hummus is one of the oldest foods dating back to ancient Egypt and chickpeas were used quite frequently in that region over 7,000 years ago. So, clearly, hummus mostly about the chickpeas.
If you frequent Middle Eastern restaurants and eat the hummus, you've likely discovered that the taste varies a little from place to place. Some recipes have a stronger lemon flavor, others have a more pronounced garlic flavor, and some are distinctly spicier. When making your own hummus, you have to keep your own tastes in mind. So, if a recipe calls for a lot of tahini and you don't like tahini, simply scale down the amount or omit it completely. Middle Eastern cooking varies often from country to country, town to town and even from family to family. Ingredients and amounts aren't set in stone and it's part of the fun to add a little of this, take away a bit of that and still have a culinary masterpiece!
Serving Hummus as an Appetizer
Hummus is the original dip, as it were. Serve a variety of different flavors with warm pita bread wedges, pita chips, fresh vegetables, or try one of these appetizer ideas with hummus.
Serve the hummus in brightly colored bowls and topped with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes, toasted pine nuts and/or roasted chickpeas. No matter how you eat it, hummus is both a healthy and delicious snack.
- 1 can garbanzo beans/chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup olive oil (to replace the tahini)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste