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The complicated history of hummus | Arab American Heritage Month

The Middle Eastern dish, hummus, has become a favorite among Americans. Yet, the tasty spread's origin has caused significant conflicts.

TOLEDO, Ohio — It’s Arab American Heritage Month and what better way to learn about Arab culture than food. 

The Middle Eastern dish, hummus, has become a favorite among Americans. Yet, the tasty spread's origin has caused significant conflicts.

Specifically, between Israel and Lebanon.

“There was almost a hummus war in 2008 until 2010 when each country was trying to make the record Guinness record of the biggest hummus dish" says Dr. Gabby Seaman, Arab cultures professor at University of Toledo.

A competition between two countries over the chickpea-based spread. How did it end?

“Lebanon was able to do that, and then Israeli Arabs did a bigger plate in 2010, and then the Lebanese went and did one that was more than 4 tons," added Dr. Seaman.

Other than competing for the largest dish, many Middle Eastern countries tried to claim hummus as their National dish. But difficulties in finding where hummus actually originated made a lot of those claims problematic.

“It’s hard to trace that because it is a common dish among many of the countries that were part of the Ottoman Empire. I know that the Lebanese tried to claim it after the Israelis were proclaiming hummus as their national dish," says Dr. Seaman. 

Since hummus is popular in most Arab countries it’s hard to say what country created this dip. 

“Can we truly say that it’s a staple for just one of these places? Definitely not, as they all share many similarities," added Dr. Seaman. 

Because this dip gained the attention of so many different countries there are multiple ways to make hummus. 

We wanted to take you inside a local restaurant, Phoenicia Cuisine, on how they make their hummus. 

Hummus Recipe

  • Cooked Chickpeas
  • 1 large lemon 
  • Tahini (sesame butter)
  • 1 Small minced garlic clove.
  • Olive oil
  • Water
  • Salt to taste 
  1. Blend the cooked chickpeas into a food processor.
  2. After the chickpeas are mashed add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt and water into the food processor. Mix all the ingredients until it is all incorporated. 
  3. Add water if hummus is to thick 
  4. Add salt to your liking.