Hummus is one of the many contributions from the Middle East to world cuisine that has become very popular with Americans. Yamba Hummus was founded to give Americans authentic hummus, just like the kind made fresh every day and sold by street vendors in Israel.
Shely Aronov was born and raised in Israel in a family of cooks. “As a kid, I was a allowed to take the stems off the spinach,” she laughs. While her family was of European origins, the food that she experienced at her friends’ houses, who were of Middle Eastern and North African origins seemed more exciting with their wide variety of spices.
“People sometimes ask if Israelis are vegetarians, because we serve vegetables in so many ways. Lemon and olive oil are strong components. Eventually, hummus became a staple of the Israeli diet because it is so healthy. It’s a big part of the culture. People eat it every day. There are hummus shops that sell only hummus, and the refrigerated section of supermarkets in Israel are huge.”
When Shely came to the US to get her MBA at Stanford, she missed hummus. “I’m a person who lives in the kitchen,” she says. “I love cooking with spices, creating recipes. My passion is definitely creating delicious, healthy food. So, of course, I made hummus.”
At Stanford the expectation is that graduates will become entrepreneurs, and straight out of school Shely helped a friend do a bio-tech start-up. That reinforced her desire to launch her own company. “Seeing the process firsthand was very useful. It’s not that different from any job, except that you have the responsibility for everything. I like that!”
The decision of the kind of company she would build was obvious. Following her passion, of course, it was to be a food company. Shely was introduced to Oren Dobronsky and his wife, Nancy, whose Israeli-style hummus shop in Palo Alto has become a Bay Area favorite, and Oren became an investor for her new business.
Yamba Hummus launched the summer of 2013. From the start, Shely was committed to using local suppliers who could provide her with fresh ingredients. “The key to the complex flavors of good hummus is better ingredients and less water, which creates a rich and creamy texture. Hummus is full of valuable nutrients. The carbs are from chickpeas, and most of the calories come from the chickpeas and good oils. It’s high in in protein, fiber and vitamins.”
Hummus is much more than a dip. According to Shely, hummus goes with just about everything. “Use it as a spread in sandwiches, with cold cuts, eggs, kebabs, grilled meats,. It’s even delicious to dip pickles into hummus!”
“I am delighted to bring the number one food staple from Israel to US markets. “Growing up eating a LOT of hummus I knew I could make extraordinary hummus, just like back home, that’s delicate, not too sour or garlicky, made with simple ingredients, and that has just the right balance of all the great flavors of chickpeas, tahini, garlic, and spices.”