Hummus (Chick-peas hummus)

March 21, 2009  •  Category: ,

I get so annoyed, actually fuming when I see mediocre or downright disgusting hummus served all over America. I guess I take it personally. In Dallas, it is served at American and  Iranian and  Greek and  Indian restaurants, in addition to so-called Mediterranean restaurants. It never tastes how it should! Since Hummos is actually very easy to make and only consists of 4 main ingredients-chick peas, lemon juice, tahini and garlic- I have concluded that most people who prepare it don’t have any idea  how it is supposed to taste.

Now, there are 2 ways to achieve a delicious hummus and it depends on the time you have available. The fast and easy version consists on using canned chick peas while the authentic way is of course to soak and boil the beans one day ahead. I will tell you this: both are good, except with the beans you avoid the extra sodium and sometimes a metallic taste.  However, you absolutely must use freshly squeezed lemon juice and fresh and mashed garlic! Also, to save time, you can prepare the hummos,mash it in the processor or food mill and put individual servings of it in a freezer ziploc bag to grab at a later date when needed. I had a friend in California, Jamal, who upon showing me his apartment, proudly opened his freezer to point out the rows of neat little plastic bags of hummos that his mother had prepared for him on her last visit! Defrost it and  season it with garlic and lemon juice  and tahini when ready to eat it!

Hummos is an essential part of a Levantine mezze and is served in many different ways, either plain or with shawarma lamb slices on it or ground meat and pine nuts. The key is to achieve a balance of very creamy yet firm, with an undercurrent lemony and garlicky taste that lingers in the mouth after the hummos is gone. This will make you want to reach for more and more…and more.


2 cans of chick peas or 8 oz. of dried chick peas, to end up with 1lb. of cooked chick peas. If using dried chick peas, soak them in cold water overnight and add to the water a teaspoon of baking soda. Drain them the next day and cook them in 4 cups of water for at least 1 hour until they are very tender. If using canned chick peas, drain them and place them in a pot, add 2 cans of water and put on the stove to simmer for 30 minutes or so to get rid of the metallic taste. Then, take 2 cups of ice cubes and drop them on the chick peas and when it is safe to do so, rub the peas to get rid of as much skin as possible. This is optional.

3/4  cup of tahini ( or more depending on personal preference). You need to stir the container with a wooden spoon because the oil tends to come up to the surface.

1/2 cup of lemon juice, squeezed fresh if possible. Some people like to add a pinch of citric acid to add more tartness, this is optional.

1/2 cup of warm water, preferably from the cooked chick peas

5 cloves of garlic, or 1 tablespoon of toom, which is a garlic paste that you can prepare several days beforehand.


  1. After cooking the chick peas until they are very tender, or simmering the canned ones, put them aside and let them cool a bit while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. Have ready and nearby the lemon juice, tahineh and garlic mashed with a teaspoon of salt.
  3. Drain the chick peas but keep about 1 cup of their cooking water in the pot. Keep 1/4 cup of chick peas for garnish. Now start processing the chick peas to a creamy paste in the food processor for a few minutes.
  4. Add  the tahineh, then lemon juice and garlic.
  5. If it is too thick, add some of the cooking water, 1/4 cup at a time. Taste it. If it is lemony, garlicky and creamy and you absolutely love it, stop. If not, add more lemon juice, or garlic, or even tahineh to your satisfaction.

Pour the hummos in a bowl, garnish with the whole chick peas and a little extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of paprika, if you wish. Serve with fresh pita bread  or pita chips.

chick peas


This quantity will serve at least 8 people generously. Hummos will keep for a week in the fridge without any alteration in flavor. To make garlic paste or toom, here again, you can plan ahead. Peel enough garlic cloves to equal one cup (5 oz.)and mash them to a paste with 3 teaspoons of sea salt in a mini-processor. Gradually add about 3 tablespoons of canola oil (or olive oil) to the mixture as well as 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. Use the garlic paste for everything including this hummos, salad dressings, on sandwiches (it is healthier than mayo!), soups, stews, steamed veggies, baked potatoes, etc.

TIP: If you find that your hummos is too runny, I learned this trick from my mother who told me that restaurants in Beirut were doing it: tear the crust of one or several slices of plain American bread (white sandwich bread). Add the white fresh bread to the processor while mixing: this will give it body and texture without taking away the taste. Also, the traditional way to garnish the plate of hummos is with a touch of ground paprika and a splash of extra-virgin olive oil.

Toom or garlic paste


chick peas with skins
chick peas with skins


28 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Alice Kezhaya says:

    This batch was really, really good today, by the way. I wish we could have it every day, because it runs out too quickly. And the toum was nice and white, too! 🙂

  2. Yasmine says:

    Beautiful, I’m making Hommos after tomorrow so I’m going to use your recipe. I was wondering though, does the hommos really keep both the taste and the texture in the freezer?

    • Joumana says:

      Thanks for your question. I am going to edit my post and specify that the hummos should not have lemon or garlic or tahineh to freeze properly. Just hummos, cooked and mashed. Then, after thoroughly defrosting one can add the flavoring “tabbeloh”.

  3. Dana says:

    Salut Joumana!

    I have been reading your blog today while entertaining my 6 months old son. Your intro’s and recipes remind me so much of home. I havent been to Lebanon in four years and miss it a lot …

    I too was disgusted by the hommos and tabbouleh served in the US. This is the real deal. I whipped a batch yesterday with some shawarma. Thanks for the recipe.

    btw, I get US grown toom at whole foods. I hate foreign produce and try to buy local as much as possible.


    • Joumana says:

      Bonsoir Dana
      I was going to check wholefoods for toom. Glad you mentioned it! I found a site today for local farms that allow for picking up fresh stuff. I was going to ask if they ever tried growing mulberries. You know, toot? I have checked at the middle-eastern stores and they are selling blackberry syrup, but they call it “toot”; it does not taste as good. Apparently, some chefs in California are buying it for $15 a pound from local growers. Hey, that could be a good cottage industry!
      OK, well, I am rambling. Thanks for the encouraging comment, it makes me smile!

  4. ahavotre says:

    to truly make an authentic and successful hummos the chick peas must be peeled prior to pureeing… after cooking .you can submerge them in cold water and rub their skins they will float to top ,discard skins and continue this process( do however reserve some cooking water) .sadly this tradition is disappearing as we are in a hurry but it makes for a lightier ,creamier..more intense and easily digestible hummos..this process should also be used for making falafel..once u do this ..u wont be able to eat hummos bi tahineh with skins again..

    • Joumana says:

      Funny you mention that! My friends think it is highly eccentric of me to peel the hummos! I tell them that if you do it in front of the TV it is actually quite enjoyable, like having prayer beads for example!

  5. Alina says:

    I just recently came across your blog searching for Lebanese recipes and I love your blog! The thread about hummus is the most informative I have ever come across and I must report that my family thinks that I now make the best hummus in the world, all thanks to you! 🙂 I used canned chickpeas, but I peeled each and every one of them and I do believe this makes a huge difference in the taste and consistency of hummus. While it can be a bit tedious on a Wednesday night, it was well worth the time and the effort. Thank you again for sharing the secrets of the wonderful Lebanese cuisine!

  6. karin says:

    its one of the perfect hummus ever thank you so much. I had lots of compliment the best was my mom she loved it thank you thank you …….
    when i read your comment…..,
    one thing that is really make me mad that why western countries put our “middle Eastern food ” in Mediterranean category !!!! which it is completely different

  7. Michelle Zadian says:

    I’m searching recipes for hummus and came across your site.. After reading the comments I wanted to share. My mother is Syrian and my father was Armenian so i tend to confuse the two cooking cultures and am not at all offended when they are grouped together in the stores…and I am going to take your advice and peel the beans…i hadn’t seen this suggestion in other posts… 🙂

    • Joumana says:

      @Michelle Zadian: Peeling the beans is something I see a lot here in Lebanon; there is another method which consists on placing the beans on a towel and covering them and running a rolling pin over them; it gets them peeled too.

  8. Amanda says:

    Alina is right on! I prefer using beans I prepare myself. When I am in a time crunch, however, I will use S&W low sodium chick peas, and I shell each bean. I must use three cans instead of two. I call this “special friend hummus” because it is so time consuming!

  9. MrsJennyK says:

    I have used many, many recipes for hummus. Sometimes they are good, sometimes awful. I often have tried to just guess and taste as I’m making it, trying to find the right ratios. I made your recipe today and it is, by far, the best I’ve ever had! I always cook my beans from dried. I didn’t remove the skins this time, but will next time. I mashed the garlic with the salt, using the flat of a big knife. In the past I have just thrown chopped garlic in the machine with everything else. Never again! Thank you for the wonderful recipe. I can’t wait to try others on this site!

  10. Julie says:

    Bonjour de Montreal,
    Thank you for sharing your recipes with us.
    When you say 2 cans of chick peas in the hummus recipe, is it 19oz cans?

    I have been tweaking with many amounts of tahini, garlic and lemon quantities.
    I’m on a mission to re-create the taste that my boyfriend who is Lebanese remembers from his mother who passed away. He says that I make a great hummus but his mom’s had more of a chickpeas taste. So I tried version of less tahini more lemon, etc.

    Also I would like to share that I used the zest of lemons (about half a tea spoon) and the flavors were fantastic according to my boyfriend and his friends.

    Also my boyfriend told me that the taste of hummus will change after 24 hours in the fridge. What looked like a hummus with too much lemon became very tasty the next day. I also tried versions with lime instead of lemon and it was interestingly good.


    • Joumana says:

      @Julie: Bonjour de Beyrouth! Cans of hummus would be the standard in the US and Lebanon which is about 15 ounces a can. Your boyfriend’s mom probably used very little tahini. Sounds like you are on your way to becoming the hummus Queen of Montréal, not a small feat with all the Lebanese expats around. BRavo et bon courage!

  11. Rosalina says:

    I’m a native California of Mexican parents, and have traveled to many countries… always enjoy the different cultures and historical monuments, but mostly the food. 🙂 The best hummus I had previously was homemade from a friend, Hiat, who is a Circassian from Georgia… and I must say, eating at many Mediterranean Restaurants, including Greek and Lebanese, your recipe for hummus is so easy to follow and so delicious, I used fresh chick peas! I followed it exactly… 😀 Thank you so much for sharing.

  12. emily brinjak says:

    No cumin??? I do like the bit about simmering the canned chick peas though and I will try it like that. But ya, toast some cumin seeds, grind them up and throw them in too…..about a teaspoon!!

    • Joumana says:

      @emily brinjak: Sounds interesting! Lebanese purists would bristle at the idea of adding cumin to their hummus, but I am an adherent of the school of “whatever works for you is fine” 🙂

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