Hummus, Iraqi-style

October 25, 2012  •  Category:


A mere five years ago, you would have suggested I try a different spice or version of hummus and I would have certainly given you a very dirty look. Today,  any version that meets my taste buds is A-OK. (Heck, even Lebanese starred chefs are foregoing tradition and presenting hummus with different combos of flavors). 

This very simple variation uses turmeric; the idea came about  while I was researching Iraqi food and my friend Wafa’ who lives in Baghdad was telling me all about lablabi. Lablabi is a chickpea soup flavored with turmeric that Iraqis eat on cold winter nights from street vendors, squeezing some fresh lime or Seville oranges on the broth. 

Had to try hummus and turmeric. Besides turmeric got such a high rating from nutrition experts: It is a natural detox, inhibits cancer cells, aids in healing skin conditions, etc, etc. 


INGREDIENTS: 6 servings

  • 1 cup of dried chickpeas
  • 1 1/2  tsp of turmeric
  • 2 cups of chicken broth or water
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of tahini
  • 2 garlic cloves, mashed in a mortar with a dash of salt
  • 1 lime, juiced (or more, to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda


  1. Place the chickpeas in a large bowl, add the baking soda and plenty of tap water; let them soak overnight. 
  2. Drain the chickpeas and rinse; place in a pot with 2 cups of chicken broth and 4 cups of water and bring to a simmer; add the turmeric. Simmer (skimming froth as it appears) for one hour or longer, until soft. Drain and reserve the cooking water. Place the chickpeas, tahini, one cup of cooking water, garlic, lime juice in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, tasting to see if it needs more lime or garlic or tahini. If it is too thick, add some more cooking water. Serve at room temperature with pita bread. 
NOTE: You can recycle the cooking water for a soup or a pizza dough later on.

To all of my Muslim followers, I wish to extend a

Eid Mubarak


24 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Rosa says:

    A delicious sounding/looking hummus. This version is interesting.



  2. miriam says:

    ummm;not sure about this version..cant imagine chicken broth in the flavor profile ,esp in a cold dish ,whereas the soup sounds great…

  3. Giuliana says:

    Quanto mi piace l’hummus, lo mangerei di continuo!!!!

  4. Adriano Petrich says:

    I usually add half of a tsp of baking soda to the boiling water also. The turmeric is something I have to try!

  5. Michael Kplus says:

    Thanks…I will try this version. Adding turmeric…I would have never gotten the idea.

    I have attended a cookery class of German chef Ingo Holland, who cooked the chickpeas with two bay leaves. A bit strong for my taste. One bay leaf is fine and adds an interesting flavour.
    Also, instead of tahini he added toasted sesame seeds to add a bit of crunch. He omitted tahini altogether!

    • Joumana says:

      @MichaelKplus: Interesting! Chefs the world over are freely experimenting with hummus; in Lebanon, though, the traditional version remains the most popular and widespread; when folks order it at a mezze table, they want the classic version! 🙂

      @Belinda @Zomppa: the baking soda is supposed to tenderize the chickpeas (I think); in any case, everybody uses it.

      @Trudy: The recipe is going to be in my upcoming Iraqi cookbook; since it is going to be in Arabic, I am planning to maybe sell it online via an e-book format in English.

  6. Dana says:

    I love the idea of tumeric in hummus. It looks lovely.

  7. Marie-Claire says:

    I am like you, Joumana. I used to be so purist when it came to hummus. Until I added leftover fresh pesto one day because I didn’t want it to go to waste. My next one will be with turmeric. It is so high on the list of good things for health right now, what a wonderful way to use it. Besides, it gives great color to ANY dish!

  8. Belinda @zomppa says:

    I love turmeric, but never thought to put it in hummus – wonderful. What’s the baking soda for?

  9. Oui, Chef says:

    Turmeric adds such a lovely color as well. My favorite is plain, loaded with lemon and garlic, but I’ve also had a smoky chipotle pepper hummus that is fantastic!

  10. Trudy Holtz says:

    Looks fantastic! And I’d love to find out more about that soup your friend told you about as well.

    Turmeric is going to be my go to winter seasoning!

  11. AstraLibris says:

    How glorious – I can’t wait to try this new version!!

  12. Banana Wonder says:

    Thanks for this post! Interesting version and I will have to try it with tumeric.

  13. Baltic Maid says:

    I love the traditional hummus but I also love to experiment with different spices. I am a huge fan of turmeric because of its nutrional value so I will try this version for sure. Thank you!

  14. Susan says:

    I will try adding some turmeric next time I make hummus! The health benefits sound well worth it.

  15. Amanda says:

    I love your presentation! And I bet it tastes ah-mazing!

  16. Wade says:

    We Lebanese in the West Indies crush a piece of fresh red habanero pepper with the garlic and salt, and lime juice. Then serve it sprinkled with a little cayenne pepper on top….Amazing!

  17. Christele says:

    I’m still a purist when it comes to hummus and most of Lebanese mezze for that matter! I’ve tried different versions in restaurants and haven’t found one I really like. Maybe I’ll change my mind with turmeric as I am trying to incorporate it in as many dishes as possible for its anti-inflammatory/ anti-cancerous benefits. Fingers crossed 🙂

  18. Eric Burkett says:

    OK, my plan had been to try this recipe since reading it last week. I all ready had a batch of hummus in the refrigerator I’d made just a couple of days earlier so I waited until I was out. Today was the day. I put some chickpeas on to boil this morning since I wanted to, more or less, recreate a dish I had in Spain featuring chickpeas. I threw an extra cup of dried garbanzos in for the hummus and let them cook away.

    Around mid-day, I trekked down to my butcher to pick up the meat for tonight’s dinner, reminding myself to grab a few limes, as well, since your recipe called for them rather than lemons (It had never occurred to me to use limes rather lemons; I was intrigued).

    Shopping done, I got home, prepared the guiso for dinner tonight and popped it into a very low oven to braise for five or six hours. Then I turned my attention to the hummus. I pulled up your recipe online and realized, dammit, that I should have cooked the chickpeas with the turmeric called for in the recipe. Feeling lucky, I continued anyway and, reaching into the cupboard where I keep all my spices, I pulled out my bottle of turmeric only to realize after opening it, it was actually curry powder, not just plain turmeric.

    I would not be deterred. I began assembling the ingredients I had and combined them in my food processor. It tasted good. Quite nice, actually. I just had some on some toasted sourdough with olive oil.

    Next time, I’ll try your recipe instead.

  19. Nuts about food says:

    Will try this variation for sure. Never knew turmeric was so good for you.

  20. humble_pie says:

    i’m late writing this, which is probably a good thing since it’s going to sound like a real downer after all those glowing remarks about the anti-inflammatory & anti-cancer properties of turmeric. So sorry!

    a thing we learned in herb & nutrition classes from several profs … later i did some research, there is a lot of food irradiation happening in north america … is that imported spices are all irradiated to preserve shelf life & this destroys not only all enzymes but also most medicinal properties.

    some medicinal properties in some dried internationally-shipped spices may survive, but one can only imagine the cost of the double-blind studies that would be necessary to prove which survived & which didn’t, in each spice. No person, agency or food inspection service can begin to afford to mount such studies.

    other irradiated foods in north america: parsley & other fresh herbs shipped from southern US farms in wintertime, as well as local potatoes.

    my sister, who winters in florida, recently commented to me how she finds it strange that winter parsley bought locally in florida deteriorates rapidly in her florida refrigerator, whereas winter parsley from florida that she buys in canada when she comes home for christmas will keep well for at least a couple of weeks.

    that’s because the florida parsley for export markets is irradiated whereas local florida parsley for local buyers isn’t, i said. Irradiation is an expensive procedure, the facility has to be built witih thick concrete walls & many communities will not permit a food irradiation facility to be constructed.

    evidently florida parsley marketers are thinking that when parsley is sold locally in florida, it will be consumed before it decays. Whereas winter florida parsley destined for remote markets gets the radioactive treatment so it will last longer.

    in quebec, potatoes are irradiated to prevent them from sprouting during the winter. The facility is operated by a subsidiary of Atomic Energy of Canada. You know, the friendly folks who manufacture the Candu nuclear reactor?

    i always buy potatoes on deep special sale because these less expensive tubers are usually not irradiated. What i find is that they sprout very rapidly, within 2 or 3 weeks. Alas it seems to be a question of either potatoes that grow or else potatoes that glow …

    • Joumana says:

      @humble_pie: Scary!! In Lebanon too, people are wary of huge veggies for example, which they suspect are fed hormones…the list is endless. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with the readers of this blog!

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