How Lebanon Broke The World Record For Hummus Twice

How Lebanon Broke The World Record For Hummus Twice

It is difficult to think of a greater Lebanese lunch standard as a perfectly made hummus dip.

Coming from the Arabic word for chickpeas, hummus is a traditional dip made from chickpeas blended together with garlic, tahini and lemon juice, with different garnishes and variants found throughout the Middle East.

Lebanon has long seen hummus as one of its biggest and most important national dishes, and because of this has made the biggest bowl of hummus ever mixed, mashed and put together, not once but twice, as part of a way to emphasise this heritage.


The Battle For Hummus

The exact origin of hummus has tragically been lost to time, with the first known written recipes coming from 13th Century Cairo. Despite this, it is known to have been eaten long before this in Egypt and the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean region of West Asia, including Lebanon, Turkey and Syria).

Lebanon and its people have always seen hummus as a particularly Lebanese food, to the point that they have requested protected status for the food by the European Commission, similar to those provided for Stilton cheese, Melton Mowbray pies, Champagne and Proscuitto Toscano.

However, Israel also sees it as an unofficial “national dish”, because of its huge popularity across the country, which has led to much-spirited discussion surrounding the true ownership of a dish this popular.

The main sphere of competition for this debate has been in the form of the Guinness World Record for the largest bowl of hummus and was at one point one of the most fiercely contested records in the history of the award.

The Guinness World Records began in 1955 as a way to settle arguments made at parties and in public houses, as commonly-used reference books at the time were not suited to answering these questions, and a book of interesting records and facts might be successful.

It has been so successful that the book has received a yearly edition ever since, and one of the most news-worthy records during its final years as a Christmas present institution was a competition between Lebanon and Israel to produce the biggest bowl of hummus.

The first record of this kind was held by a Jerusalem-based group of chefs working for Tzabar, an Israel based food company.

The bowl holding the record was 4 metres long and in total held around 400kg of hummus in May 2008, becoming the largest bowl of hummus recognised by Guinness World Records.

However, a group of Lebanese chefs decided to take the challenge and delivered four times the hummus in 2009, with a bowl containing over 2050kg of finely made Lebanese hummus.

Less than a year later, at the start of 2010, a group of 50 chefs based in Abu Ghosh doubled this amount with over 4070kg in a single bowl of hummus.

Just five months later, Chef Ramzi Choueriri and 300 culinary students of Al-Kafaat University in Beirut would produce a record-breaking 10542kg bowl of hummus on a 7.17m diameter plate.

To date, this is the largest bowl of hummus ever made and was made from over eight tonnes of boiled chickpeas, two tonnes of lemon juice, 70kg of olive oil and two tonnes of tahini.