Kid-friendly Sweet and Savory Middle Eastern Hummus Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Sweet and Savory Middle Eastern Hummus

Recipe: Sweet and Savory Middle Eastern Hummus

Sweet and Savory Middle Eastern Hummus

by Erin Fletter
Photo by Louise Crouch/
prep time
40 minutes
cook time
9 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Sweet and Savory Middle Eastern Hummus

These days, hummus recipes, like salsa, are as varied as Colorado weather (our Sticky Fingers Cooking home base state). Though what we think of as traditional hummus is pretty straightforward, countries and cultures have been adapting the recipe and claiming it as their own, so much so that hummus is truly a household name in the Middle East. Records show Egypt is the origin. Can you find Egypt on your map? In the sections below the recipe, you and your kids can learn more about hummus and the Middle East, a culturally rich and fascinating part of the world.

There are many ways to make similar dips inspired by hummus. Cauliflower, beet, and edamame make BEAUTIFUL and delicious versions, to name just a few. We thought we’d take the traditional version made with chickpeas and offer it as a blank canvas for our young chefs. They may or may not have ever tried hummus. It’s a little like peanut butter—a spread that goes with just about everything. Let them smell the spices and herbs you have before choosing their own ingredients to add to the chickpea base. A colorful variety of fruit and vegetable dippers (and bread!) will make tasting their creations fun and healthy.

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • blend :

    to stir together two or more ingredients until just combined; blending is a gentler process than mixing.

  • plate :

    to arrange food beautifully on a plate or platter or in a bowl.

  • season :

    to add flavor to food with spices, herbs, and salt.

  • simmer :

    to cook a food gently, usually in a liquid, until softened.

  • toast :

    to brown and crisp food in a heated skillet or oven, or in a toaster.

Equipment Checklist

  • Can opener
  • Strainer
  • Blender (or food processor)
  • Measuring spoons
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Medium bowl


Sweet and Savory Middle Eastern Hummus

  • 2 15 oz cans chickpeas/garbanzo beans (sub cooked cauliflower + extra water—more info below)
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1/4 C tahini (sub sunflower butter or omit, if allergic to sesame)
  • sweet add-ins (kids choose!):
  • cocoa powder, cinnamon, chocolate chips, mashed banana, canned pumpkin, sugar/maple syrup/honey, ginger, nutmeg, lemon juice/zest, etc.
  • savory add-ins (kids choose!):
  • minced garlic or garlic powder, lemon/lime zest or juice, salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, chile powder, oregano, basil, cilantro, etc.

Food Allergen Substitutions

Sweet and Savory Middle Eastern Hummus

  • Chickpea: Substitute {{2}} pkgs frozen (thawed) cooked cauliflower + extra water as needed to thin out your hummus.
  • Nut/Sesame: sub sunflower butter or omit tahini, made from sesame seeds, from Hummus.


Sweet and Savory Middle Eastern Hummus

measure + blend

Drain 2 cans of cooked chickpeas (reserve the liquid!) and add to a blender or food processor. Measure and add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/4 cup of tahini.

season + mix

Scoop hummus into a bowl. To make Sweet Hummus, add any combination of the following ingredients: mashed ripe banana, mashed canned pumpkin, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, lemon zest/juice, and sugar/honey/maple syrup! Taste as you go and have kiddos add more of any ingredient they choose. To make Savory Hummus, add any combination of the following: fresh minced garlic OR garlic powder, lemon/lime zest/juice, salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, chile powder, oregano, basil, cilantro, etc. Taste as you go and have kiddos add more of any ingredient they choose. Serve with Bite-Sized Dippers and Sweet Spiced Ginger Tea!

Surprise Ingredient: Chickpeas!

back to recipe
Photo by Halil ibrahim mescioglu/

Hi! I’m Chickpea!

"Hmmm, I think I would like you to call me a Chickpea, not a garbanzo bean. Aren't little chicks so cute! You're probably familiar with me if you've ever eaten hummus. It's made with chickpeas! I'm a cute little seed that, when you combine a bunch of us, we can provide an excellent source of protein in your diet!"

History & Etymology

  • Chickpeas are a high-protein legume and the main ingredient in many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes. They may also be called garbanzo beans.
  • Evidence of domesticated chickpeas from about 9,500 years ago has been found in Turkey and the Levant (an area bordering the Mediterranean in Western Asia). 
  • The word "chickpeas" comes from the early 18th century, and earlier was "chiche-pease," which came from late Middle English "chiche," from the Middle French "pois chiche," from the Latin "cicer." 
  • The word "garbanzo" is Spanish for "chickpea," and the word "hummus" is Arabic for "chickpea."


  • A chickpea is a round, yellow-tan seed that grows in pods on a legume plant that can grow from 8 to 20 inches high. One pod holds two to three seeds. 
  • Chickpeas are grown around the world, and there are dozens of varieties, including a black one from southern Italy called "ceci neri."

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • Chickpeas taste like a bean, but they also have a nutty flavor, and their texture, when cooked, is described as soft and creamy or buttery. For Middle Eastern dishes, dried chickpeas are often boiled and mashed to make hummus, or they are soaked and then ground into flour to make falafels. 
  • You can add cooked or canned chickpeas to salads, roasted veggies, soups, stews, pasta, or rice dishes. 
  • You can also roast chickpeas and eat them as a snack. In the Middle East, roasted chickpeas are called "leblebi." 


  • Chickpeas provide almost 9 grams of protein in a 3.5-ounce serving. They are available either dried or canned. Because they are high in protein, chickpeas are often added to animal and bird feed. 
  • Chickpeas have loads of dietary fiber! So what is fiber good for? Smooth digestion! It helps the body absorb the vitamins and nutrients it needs to be strong and healthy.
  • Chickpeas are also good sources of folate (vitamin B9), manganese, phosphorus, and iron.


What is Hummus?

Photo by Ptichka80/
  • Hummus (HUM-moohs or HUM-muhs) is the Arabic word for "chickpeas." It is a dip or spread made from chickpeas that originated in the Middle East. The first written record we have of hummus is in a 13th-century Syrian cookbook. 
  • You make classic hummus by boiling dried chickpeas and mashing them with garlic, lemon juice, salt, olive oil, and tahini, a paste made from sesame seeds. You can also use canned chickpeas. In the Middle East, they might eat hummus on bread with a meal, dip their pita in it for an appetizer, or serve it with eggplant, falafel, or grilled meat. You can also dip chips into hummus or spread it on crackers or a flatbread, like pita.

Let's Learn About Egypt

Photo by Murat Sahin

Ancient Egypt

  • Ancient Egypt dates back to around 3150 BCE.
  • Both Egyptian men and women wore makeup. If their eye paint was green, it was made from copper, and if it was black, it was made from lead. Egyptians thought makeup could magically provide healing! 
  • Egyptians believed in preparing for the afterlife, and by preserving the dead person's body through mummification, their soul would live forever. If you were to unwrap a mummy's bandages in a straight line, they would be as long as a mile! 
  • More than 700 hieroglyphs made up the Egyptian alphabet! 
  • Ancient Egyptians had over 2,000 gods! Each deity had different responsibilities and required worship so that life could be kept in balance. 
  • Cats were sacred, and Egyptians believed having a cat in their household would bring good luck!  
  • Love playing board games with your pals? So did the Ancient Egyptians! One popular game, 'Senet,' was played in Egypt for over 2,000 years! To play, they would throw sticks, like we throw dice, to move their game piece on the board.
  • The Ancient Egyptians invented many things we still use today, such as paper, pens, locks with keys, and, believe it or not, toothpaste! 

Modern Egypt

  • The country of Egypt is officially known as the Arab Republic of Egypt. Arabic is the official language, but additional languages, such as English and French, are also understood by many.
  • The population of Egypt is over 102.6 million, and its total area is 390,121 square miles.
  • Cairo is the capital city and also has the largest population. Other major cities include Alexandria and Giza.
  • On the borders of Egypt are the Gaza Strip, Israel, Libya, Sudan, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Red Sea.
  • The Sinai Peninsula in Egypt spans both the African and Asian continents.
  • Egypt is an arid country. The Sahara and the Libyan Desert make up most of Egypt's area.
  • Egypt experiences many types of natural hazards, including droughts, earthquakes, flash floods, landslides, windstorms, dust storms, and sandstorms.
  • Egypt's Nile River is the longest in Africa and possibly the world, although the Amazon may be slightly longer.
  • The Great Pyramid of Giza, built in the 26th century BCE, is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and is still in reasonably good shape, considering it is about 4,600 years old!
  • Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Egypt. Other popular sports include tennis and squash (like racquetball).
  • Egyptians primarily eat legumes and vegetables, although those who live on the coast may include seafood in their diet. When people eat meat, they often grill lamb and beef and boil chicken, duck, and squab (young pigeon) to add to soups and stews. Bread and cheese are staple foods, and pita bread is a common local favorite. Baklava and basbousa are two favorite syrup-soaked desserts. Baklava is a layered phyllo dough and nut pastry, and basbousa is a semolina cake.

What's It Like to Be a Kid in Egypt?

  • School is free for kids from 6 to 15 years old. In addition to subjects like reading and writing, kids may also have a religious education, with Muslim and Christian students learning separately. 
  • Kids may participate in soccer, tennis, squash (like handball), and wrestling.  
  • The Sham Ennessim (or Sham al-Nassim) festival is a national holiday that celebrates the beginning of Spring and is held on Easter Monday. Families spend the whole day outside picnicking and visiting public gardens, zoos, and other places.
  • Kids may eat a popular food for breakfast or dinner called "ful medames," a stew with fava beans, also considered a national dish. "Koshari," another national dish, is a main course made with pasta, rice, lentils, and a spicy tomato sauce, topped with fried onions. For snacks, kids may eat almonds, pistachios, grapes, raisins, dates, cucumbers, pita, and cheese. Sweet treats include "Oumm Ali" (mother of Ali), a national dessert of Egypt similar to a rice pudding, consisting of bread or pastry (often phyllo) mixed with coconut, cinnamon, pistachios, and raisins with milk poured over and baked.

Lettuce Joke Around

You can't sing with a mouthful of chickpeas…

…but you can humm-us a tune!

That's Berry Funny

What is a mother hen’s favorite plant in the garden? 

The Chickpea!

That's Berry Funny

"I didn't mean to break your toy. I falafel." (I feel awful)

The Yolk's On You

What do you call Spiderman after he's eaten hummus?

Pita Parker!

That's Berry Funny

Why did the rooster blush? 

Because it saw a chickpea!

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