I don't know what the prevailing perception about homemade hummus is, if one exists at all. But I will say that people I hang out with tend to be genuinely surprised when presented with it, like "Wait, you made this hummus?" To which my response is always, "Dude, it's easy as shit." And it really is, but feel free to pretend that it's difficult, if you're into lying. There are really only two main ingredients for basic hummus: beans and tahini, the latter being the more difficult to find. All the other stuff can be considered flavoring agents-something to provide acid, usually lemon juice but any sort of vinegar could also work, salt, olive oil, cumin, garlic, and so on.
Tahini is simply a paste made from sesame seeds, and while it may not be a flavor powerhouse on its own, it is absolutely essential for making hummus that tastes like hummus. As far as locating some, chain supermarkets tend to be hit-or-miss, and Whole Foods carries it but of course will screw you on the price (last time I checked around eight bucks for a 14-ounce jar). Your best bets would be a Middle Eastern or Indo-Pak-type store, or the trusty Markets at Highlandtown (usually around three dollars for a 24-ounce jar).
The other primary ingredient is chickpeas or garbanzo beans (they are the same thing). Canned ones are widely available, while dried ones slightly less so-check in the dried bean/rice section. The beans also dictate just how easy and fast hummus preparation is going to be. If you use canned beans, you can knock out a finished product in maybe 90 seconds, start to finish. This is what I usually do, since I tend not to excel at planning ahead. And using dried beans requires exactly that, since, like most other dried legumes, they require a very long soak, on the order of eight hours or more. And then after the soak, they require actual cooking, so active involvement is upped to close to an hour.
The obvious question is, is it worth all the extra effort? In my opinion, no. I do think that texture might be enhanced using dried beans, and active cooking give you an extra opportunity to add flavor, say, by sauteeing the beans with spice to impart toasty flavors. But using canned beans offers such a huge time and convenience advantage that, unless dried-bean hummus is mind-blowingly superior (which it isn't), it's really not even a contest. Plus, much of the textural advantage of dried can be achieved with the canned stuff by investing a few extra minutes of prep and longer processing. Note that while hand-mashing the beans into hummus is perfectly fine, you will need a food processor or blender to make really silky, creamy hummus.
And though canned beans are more expensive than dried, homemade hummus is absurdly cheap. A little rough math indicates that it costs about 60 cents per cup of hummus if you use the canned stuff, about half that if you use dried.
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas
2/3 cup tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice or to taste
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons finely minced garlic (or 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder)
zest of 1 lemon
salt to taste
chopped parsley for garnish
good olive oil for garnish
With food processor:
-Drain and discard about half the liquid out of the canned beans.
-Add all ingredients except parsley and oil to food processor.
-Process on high for 1 minute. Garnish with oil and parsley.
-For extra-creamy hummus, process for 3-4 minutes, drizzling in a little olive oil at the very end.
-Same as above, but proceed in small batches.
-For smoother texture, pop the beans out of their thin skins. This can be done for the processed beans too, but I don't think it makes a big difference.
-Heat the beans in a small pot or microwave.
-Mash beans thoroughly with a fork.
-Combine all ingredients except parsley and oil, and mix thoroughly.
-Garnish and serve.
-Use 2 cups dried beans to make the above recipe. The night before, in a pot, soak beans in water to cover, adding 1/2 tsp baking soda to the soak. This helps tenderize the beans, and purportedly makes the end product less "farty". Just keeping it real, y'all.
-The next day, put the pot over high heat and bring the beans to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cook for 30-40 minutes, or until done.