The main difference between msabbaha and hummus is the texture. In contrast with hummus, the chickpeas here remain whole. Like hummus, it is eaten with fresh pita bread.
The base of the dish is balila: warm cooked chickpeas in their own water with a little added cumin, chopped parsley and lemon juice. Pine nuts fried in olive oil or samneh (clarified butter) are sometimes poured over the balila. Other ingredients include tahini and minced garlic.
A variation of msabbaha popular in Damascus today serves chickpeas and tahina with melted butter, pomegranate or lemon juice, and pistachios or pine nuts. In Israeli restaurants, where it is known as masabacha, a hot sauce is sometimes served on the side; it is often considered a "gourmet" version of hummus by Israelis who buy the latter prepackaged.