If the thought of eating garbanzo beans, commonly known as chickpeas, leaves you a little queasy, you might be surprised to find out that they are the primary ingredient in the creamy Middle Eastern spread known as hummus. In fact, “hummus” is an Arabic word meaning chickpeas. To prepare this dish, the beans are cooked, mashed and blended with a sesame seed paste called tahini as well as salt, garlic, olive oil, cumin, chili peppers if desired and lemon juice. The mixture is then spread on pita bread. It can also be used as a dip for vegetables and crackers.
While the origins of hummus are vague, its roots definitely go back into the ancient world. Even Plato and Socrates mention the nutritional values of this chickpea concoction. As is the case with the garam masala curry spice blends of India and Pakistan, cooks pride themselves on their particular unique take on hummus, and many towns boast of having the best hummus in the world.
In addition to its savory flavor, hummus can be a healthy part of any diet, including vegetarian and vegan health plans. When eaten with grains, it is a complete protein. Furthermore, it is high in iron, vitamin C, fiber and potassium. These days, hummus can be purchased in the refrigerated sections of most mainstream supermarkets. However, you can make your own healthy, fresh chickpea spread in a matter of minutes. Try it tonight, and you just might brag that your hummus is the best in the land.
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