Is Hummus Greek or Middle Eastern?

Bowl of hummus and tahini dip with pita bread on table
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Question: Is Hummus Greek or Middle Eastern?

I recently visited a Middle Eastern restaurant and ate hummus that was absolutely incredible. A few weeks later, I went to a Greek restaurant that had equally as tasty hummus. I asked the waiter at the restaurant if he knew whether hummus was Greek or Middle Eastern and he was adamant that at it is Greek. I asked a Middle Eastern friend about it and told me that hummus, without a doubt is Middle Eastern.

I am seriously confused! Is hummus Greek or Middle Eastern? (Not that it matters much, I love hummus and will eat it no matter where it is from!)

Answer: The debate over the origin of hummus is old -- as in centuries old. The Greeks like to claim it as their own, but so do the Arabs. Even the Israeli's claim it, but we'll get to that at a later time. So, who is right? Well, to be honest, no one really knows for sure, but according to historical information, hummus likely originated from ancient Egypt. According to several historical sources, the earliest mention of hummus dates back to Egypt in the 13th century.

Chickpeas were abundant in the fertile regions of the Middle East and commonly eaten. In fact, the word hummus means chickpea in Arabic. Historical documents show a dish very similar to what we eat today being consumed in Cairo in the 13th century. Still, other areas still claim hummus for their own.

Why? Well, there are many reasons.

The Greeks and Egyptians were trade partners for centuries. Many of the food in Greek and Arab cuisine are similar, if not identical. Stuffed grape leaves are an excellent example of a dish that is popular in both cultures. Baklava is another "Greek" favorite but also made in the Middle East.

You can see that many foods "crossed over" during historical periods, especially during the height of the Ottoman Empire.

Regardless of where is it from, hummus is a terrific dip that is enjoyed by all cultures, not just Greek and Middle Eastern. You can now find in just about every western supermarket and many mainstream restaurants. It has become the ultimate "crossover" food. I always laugh at how surprised some people are when they realize that hummus is a Middle Eastern or Greek food. It's become so common in our everyday life that people don't even stop to discover its roots.

Hummus today has blended the flavors of virtually all cultures. From jalapeno hummus to roasted red pepper hummus, there is surely a variety for everyone to enjoy!