Chickpeas, ‘Hummus’ and Hummsani – the oldest hummus shop in Damascus!

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The UK has adopted hummus as a firm favourite, consuming around 12,000 tonnes a year! The Telegraph named Britain the ‘Hummus Capital of Europe’ and there was even a hummus shortage in 2017. So, it’s safe to say, the Middle Eastern chickpea dip is a national treasure among Brits. But what do you really know about ‘hummus’? Read on to find out a little more about chickpeas, hummus and Hummsani – the oldest Hummus shop in Damascus!

Hummsani – the oldest hummus shop in Damascus!

Did you know, in Arabic, ‘hummus’ actually means ‘chickpeas’? The correct word for hummus (the dip) is actually ‘Musabbaha’. Either way, we are fans of both; hummus the dip, and hummus the legume! We’re also huge fans of what started out as a little chickpea shop and café in Damascus, Syria – Hummsani.Located in Damascus, and still open today, Hummsani is over 150 years old (yes – really!) It’s basically a shrine to chickpeas. There, you’ll find treasure trove of chickpea goodness; from exceptional quality, cooked chickpeas for which it’s custom to take home and make your own hummus or chickpea dishes with, to homemade ‘Musabbaha’ (or ‘hummus’, as we know it) – the best you’ll probably ever taste, and all kinds of other wonderful chickpea-based dishes!What makes Hummsani’s ‘Musabbaha’ the best hummus you’ll probably ever taste? The answer; it gets a good pounding! To this day, there are no blenders used at Musabbaha. Just as their forefathers did, the shop uses only the traditional technique of pounding the chickpeas – but it’s not just to be quaint. Pounding the chickpeas together with the other staple ingredients of the dip, allows the hummus to retain all the natural flavours and gives it an exceptional taste and perfect consistency. It’s truly authentic hummus!Traditionally, hummus is both whisked around briskly and served in a red clay bowl that has raised edges. This not only means the hummus is presented conveniently for picking up with bread, it also ensures the hummus has the correct texture as it mounds up along the edges – not too runny, nor too stiff. We use these same style bowls as Damascena to give you a true Damascan experience!

What does Damascena have in common with Hummsani?

Apart from the fact we, too, are chickpea devotees (albeit to not so great a degree), you’ll find many of the dishes served at Hummsani on Damascena’s menu! There is, of course, our beloved Hummus in two varieties; classic and avocado, fresh, crispy Falafel (enjoyed best with our hummus for that double chickpea hit!), deliciously hearty Fuul (made with beautifully flavoured, cooked and mashed fava beans and chickpeas), and Fatet Hummus – a dish made with crispy flatbread, chickpeas, hummus, tahini, garlic, lemon and extra virgin olive oil topped with lamb mince and pine nuts.As is traditional in Damascus, we serve every dish (including hummus), with pickles, for an extra sprinkle of yummy authenticity!If you loved this peek into a little 150-year-old chickpea shop in Damascus, and we’ve whet your appetite for all things chickpea related, pay us a visit at Damascena – your local, far-away coffee shop! You’ll find us on Alcester Road in Moseley, on Temple Row West in Birmingham City Centre, and now also on the High Street in Harborne. See you soon!

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