Hummus is one of those mild dishes that can serve as a blank slate for spices. Alternatively, it is fine with no spices except for salt. In places, the only seasonings for hummus are salt and lemon juice. For example, the Lebanese version has a flavor profile that is simple and clean and that acts as a contrast to other spicy dishes. If you decide to make one of the versions that do feature spices, here is a look at some of the best hummus spices to use.
While garlic goes with most savory foods, it seems to pair especially well with hummus. Use it in a traditional hummus made with chickpeas or one with black beans as the main ingredient. It works just as well in each.
Garlic can give hummus a savory intensity that you won’t get from any other seasoning. It melds well with the high-fat content that you will get from traditional hummus ingredients like tahini and olive oil. Still, you should be careful since it is easy to go overboard with garlic and wind up over-flavoring your hummus.
Tahini is a staple ingredient in traditional hummus and is largely responsible for the smooth, creamy texture. Tahini consists of roasted and ground sesame seeds and gives hummus a nutty, earthy flavor while also contributing a lot to its savory character.
Tahini is also the source of many of the nutrients in hummus since it brings a host of minerals and B vitamins to the dish. Technically, almost any sugar-free nut or seed butter can play the same role in hummus but tahini is the traditional Middle Eastern option.
Known as kamun or kammoun in Arabic, cumin is one of the most popular spices in the Middle East. With its smoky and earthy notes, cumin can enhance the depth of your hummus.
Cumin also has a subtle citrus note that combines well with the lemon juice component in hummus. Along with tahini and chickpeas, cumin is nutty and contributes to this aspect of the hummus flavor. This spice is one of the mainstays of the most popular recipes.
Aleppo peppers are a variety of chili pepper commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine. Chili peppers are not an essential traditional ingredient in most versions of hummus, but many people enjoy it with a little additional spice.
If you are going to increase the heat of your hummus, Aleppo chilies are the way to do it. Dried and powdered, they bring a light heat that helps to balance out the richness from olive oil and tahini. Add Aleppo powder early in the recipe or sprinkle it on top at the table.
One of the ways to cut through the rich fatty consistency of hummus is with acidity. The lemon juice in most hummus recipes serves the same purpose but it may not be enough and that’s where sumac comes in.
This powdered spice is made from the dried berries of a tree in the cashew family. Sumac is used in dishes all over the Middle East for its ability to add a bright, lemony flavor. You can add the sumac in with the other ingredients or sprinkle it on right before you serve the dish.