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Claudia Roden, doyenne of Middle Eastern cuisine writes that, "Every recipe tells a story and chickpeas are so common in the Arab world that they could be a symbol of it."

Despite the Middle East ancestry of the chickpea and it's suitability to the climate, the origins of the pulse's most famous recipe largely remains a mystery. Culinary legend has it that hummus dates back to the time of the Crusades. Some centuries old cookbooks repeat the story that hummus was first prepared in the 12th century for Saladin, the Sultan of Egypt and Syria. Charles Perry, co-author of Medieval Arab Cookery (2001 Prospect Books), writes that the nearest medieval recipe, recorded in a 13th century Arab cookbook, Kitab Wasf al-Atima al-Mutada, is Hummus kasa, which included herb ingredients and also added a potpourri of walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds and pistachios.

What we do know however is the hummus story is deeply embroiled in war and conquest. For 400 years the Ottoman Empire ruled a large slice of the Middle East from its Turkish capital, Constantinople. The modern nation states, with their hummus conflict, are only recent inventions; Lebanon in 1943, Syria and Jordan in 1946, and Israel in 1948.


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