Is Hummus Greek or Middle Eastern?

Bowl of hummus and tahini dip with pita bread on table
Tom Grill/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Question: Is Hummus Actually Greek or Middle Eastern?

I recently visited a Middle Eastern restaurant and ate hummus that was absolutely incredible. A few weeks later, I went to a Greek restaurant that had equally tasty hummus. I asked the waiter at the restaurant if he knew whether hummus was Greek or Middle Eastern and he was adamant that it is Greek. I asked a Middle Eastern friend about it and told me that hummus, without a doubt is Middle Eastern.

I am seriously confused! Is hummus Greek or Middle Eastern? (Not that it matters much, I love hummus and will eat it no matter where it is from but I'm definitely curious.)

Answer: The debate over the origin of hummus is old -- probably as old as hummus itself. The Greeks like to claim it as their own, but the Arabs are equally adamant in their claims. Even the Israeli's claim it, but we'll get to that later. So, who is right? Well, let's face it, the honest truth is that no one really knows for sure. That being said, though, based on historical information, hummus likely originated from ancient Egypt. According to several historical sources, the earliest mention of hummus dates back to Egypt in the 13th century.

Chickpeas were and are abundant in the Middle East and are still commonly eaten. In fact, the word hummus means chickpea in Arabic. Historical documents show a dish, very similar to the hummus we eat today, being consumed in Cairo in the 13th century.

But that doesn't stop other areas from continuing to claim hummus as their own. Why? Well, there are a few probable reasons.

The Greeks and Egyptians were trade partners for centuries which may explain with many of the foods in Greek and Arab cuisine are similar, if not identical. Stuffed grape leaves are an excellent example of a dish that is popular in both cultures.

The dessert, baklava, is another "Greek" favorite but also made in the Middle East. You can see that many foods "crossed over" during historical periods, especially during the height of the Ottoman Empire.

Regardless of where it's originally from, hummus is a delicious dip and spread that's enjoyed by all cultures, not just Greek and Middle Eastern. You can now find in just about every western supermarket and many mainstream restaurants. so it's become a great example of a "crossover" food. So much so that some people find it so common now that they don't even realize its roots.

Hummus today has blended the flavors of virtually all cultures. From jalapeno hummus to roasted red pepper hummus so there's a variety for everyone to enjoy!