Pedestrian Egyptian super foods: Part III – Al-Tahrir News Network


Hommos El-Sham (Hummus Sham)

Colourful and arresting with its high-tiered wooden shelves upon which are stacked glass or plastic cups, the hommos el-sham cart stands on the pavement by the Nile Corniche.

Hummus Sham (photo: Halabisa)

On the centre of its flat, table-like surface is a huge silver coloured cauldron in which the hot concoction of chickpeas known as hummus, simmers with a medley of spices.

Hommos El-Sham (photo: Spark People)

In the evening, little lights glimmer from the shelf-like tiers, giving a picturesque and distinctive air to the long stretch of pavement along the banks of the Nile. Rows of chairs and little tables have been prepared for the hommos el-sham customers.

‘halabissa’, hommos el sham (which literally means hummus of the Levant)

Also, popularly known as ‘halabissa’, hommos el-sham (which literally means hummus of the Levant), is the perfect Egyptian winter drink.

Now that autumn has arrived, the heart-warming beverage is a welcome boost to passers-by, many of whom have come to the banks of the Nile for a breath of brisk air.

As they do regarding many of their popular foods, Egyptians believe in the health benefits of hommos el-sham.

As a high-fibre, high protein drink, it is free of both sugar and saturated fats. The content provides vitamins such as Vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B-6.

Hummus is also rich in minerals like potassium, calcium, iron and zinc.

It gives a good dose of phosphorus which is beneficial for the heart as well as for the kidneys, muscles, and nerves. Its magnesium content protects the immune system, and regulates blood sugar and pressure levels.


Although it is a typically pedestrian drink which is offered in carts and in the many side-walk cafes sprinkling Cairo’s pavements, hommos el-sham can be easily prepared at home.

Hommos el-sham


500 grams hummus

500 grams hummus

3 cloves minced garlic

1 small onion, sliced (optional)

Garlic and onions (photo: Kitchen of Love)

1 1/2 litres of water for simmering

5 finely sliced or grated tomatoes

Grated tomatoes (photo: Bon Appetit)

1-2 tablespoons cumin

Juice of 4 lemons

Salt and add hot paprika to taste



Soak the chickpeas overnight

Soak the chickpeas overnight

Wash well in a colander

Place in simmering water for 30 to 45 minutes along with the minced garlic, onions and tomatoes

Add the lemon juice

Leave for an additional 15 minutes or until done, adding hot water so that it remains 3-4 inches above the chickpeas

When done, add cumin, salt and hot paprika

Serve the chickpeas along with the liquid in a glass bowl

Garnish the sides of the bowl with sliced lemons

Present bowl along with glasses and spoons

When served from the bowl into an individual glass, the serving should be one part chickpeas and two parts soup

Hommos el-sham (photo: Efty)