People everywhere are familiar with hummus by now – and especially in the United States, we think of hummus as a dip. However, if you visit Turkiye, you might be surprised to find that traditional Turkish hummus is much different than Americans are accustomed to.

@foodwtf 📍Akın Humus in #Türkiye has been serving up hand ground #hummus since the 1960’s 🎥 @diiyetdusmani #foodtok #turkishfood #humus #foodtravel ♬ Little Things – Adrian Berenguer

A restaurant in Tarsus, Turkiye called Akim Humus exemplifies the care and precision that it takes to make traditional hummus. First of all, you won’t see a blender or a food processor anywhere in sight. Once the chickpeas are cooked, they are smashed together by hand, using a wooden implement similar to a mallet.

While the chickpeas are mashed, spoonfuls of the key ingredient to Turkish hummus are added: tahini, a paste from toasted and ground sesame seeds. Other versions of hummus sometimes contain yogurt, but in Turkiye, you will always find hummus made from tahini.

In Turkiye, hummus is served as part of a mezze spread (which is often vegan and vegetarian friendly) – or a selection of appetizers served before the main meal. Many small bites found in a mezze platter are also served with a famous Turkish breakfast. Hummus is usually not served as  a spread or as a dip for pita bread or vegetables. If you’re eating hummus the traditional way, spoon it onto your plate and eat with a fork.

At Akin Humus, the hummus is topped with herbs and whole chickpeas, as well as butter and garlic sauce. However, in Turkiye traditional hummus is sometimes also served with pine nuts (for a crunchy contrast to the creaminess) or pastirma – slices of dry aged beef –  on top. And while you’ll find hummus in the refrigerated aisle here in the United States, it’s actually served warm in Turkiye.

In Turkiye, traditional hummus will usually also be seasoned with cumin and paprika, as well as garlic and lemon juice. At restaurants, you might come across meze displayed in a refrigerated case, from which customers can choose which appetizers they would like to start their meal with. If you want to sample as many meze as possible, you might consider ordering meze tabağı – a customized  platter of appetizers in smaller portions that doesn’t accompany a main course.

By the way, while you might be served hummus in Turkiye – and all over the Mediterranean and Middle East – it didn’t originate there. Egypt, Israel, Greece, and Palestine all argue who originate this now ubiquitous dish.