What is Hummus?

Here's how the American Heritage Dictionary defines hummus:

hum·mus also hum·us or hom·mos
n. A smooth thick mixture of mashed chickpeas, tahini, oil, lemon juice, and garlic used especially as a dip for pita.

Definitely not the stuff you use for gardening! The definition, however, does not do justice to the fantastic taste that has made this dip a staple of the Middle Eastern diet, and has caused its rapid proliferation around the world in the last 30 years or so.

Dried Chickpeas - Hummus Dip Main Ingredient

Nowadays, you can get prepared hummus in many supermarkets. However, the taste of these prepared dips pales when compared to home-made hummus, which is very easy to make, and obviously comes without all the chemicals, preservatives and what not (shudder).

It's very easy to make hummus yourself, and requires little more than boiling and blending - and when you make it yourself, you can even make an organic hummus dip.

There are two ways to make a humus dip. Both require that you prepare the chickpea paste beforehand. There's the easy way, and there's the easier way.

If you're going for the easier way (i.e. using canned humus rather than preparing the chickpeas yourself), then you don't need my 'how to' article. Just skip directly to this great humus recipe. However, as we all know, canned food can never compare to the real thing.

The next time you find yourself wondering just what is hummus, use this easy 'how-to' to have a go at this authentic recipe for hummus (Remember, this is not a hummus dip recipe - just the chickpea paste. Click here for my top secret hummus recipe):

What is hummus, you ask?

Try this authentic hummus recipe:


  • 1 pound dried chickpeas (Also called garbanzo beans)
  • Cloves from 1 head of garlic, peeled
  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Water


  1. Place the chickpeas in a pot, and cover with water. Soak overnight (8 -10 hours), drain and change the water 2 - 3 times
  2. At the end of the process, rinse well until the water running off the chickpeas is clear.
  3. Return to the pot, cover with water, add the baking soda, onion and garlic, and bring to the boil over medium heat.
  4. Reduce heat to low, and simmer. Remove the white foam that accumulates on top of the water with a tablespoon
  5. The chickpeas are ready when the water develops a yellow tint, and the chickpeas are soft. They should be soft but sturdy, not overly soft.
  6. Reserve 1 cup of water and one cup of chickpeas from the pot, and drain the chickpeas. Set aside to cool.
  7. When cool, transfer to a blender or food processor and grind using short bursts.

That's it.

You're chickpea paste is ready. Now, head on to my best hummus recipe.