For a dish that traditionally contains five ingredients hummus is contentious to say the least.

Half the chefs in Britain went to war a couple of years ago when The Great British Bake Off’s Mary Berry recommended adding Greek yogurt and olive oil to the recipe.

The only thing people can agree on: hummus is delicious. But what makes a good one?

For me it’s easy. Fresh, good-quality chickpeas, 100 per cent organic Australian tahini, fresh lemon juice, a good whack of fresh Aussie garlic, salt and olive oil to finish. Blended until silky smooth and, in my opinion, best served with fresh bread and topped with spiced meat.

Hummus is the guts of our kebabs at Biggie Smalls and we like to experiment. There are no rules, just flavours that make sense and bring new life to the old guard.

These recipes are easy as hell, can be made in large batches and keep for up to a week. Place them in a sealed, airtight container with a little olive oil over the top of the hummus to keep the goodness in and stop it from drying out in the fridge.

Classic Hummus Recipe
Ingredients:
1kg dried chickpeas
18 garlic cloves
100ml lemon juice
Warm water for consistency
2 tbs salt
140g tahini
A little olive oil to finish

Method:
Soak chickpeas in water overnight. Make sure they are completely submerged and have enough water to cover them by about 10cm.

Boil the chickpeas in unsalted water until very soft and then strain.

Blend chickpeas in food processor. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.

Check seasoning and adjust to taste.


CUSTOMISE YOUR HUMMUS

Pumpkin-pie hummus
Ingredients:
1kg hummus base
400g roasted-pumpkin puree (see below)
30g salt
1 tbs cinnamon
100g honey
½ tbs sweet paprika

To make roasted-pumpkin puree:
2kg peeled and roughly chopped Jap pumpkin
Salt and olive oil for seasoning

Roll the pumpkin in salt and olive oil. Roast in a pre-heated 180°C oven until dark and soft. Puree to a fine paste. It should make approximately 1kg of puree (the pumpkin loses water as it roasts). Fold 400g of the pumpkin puree through the remainder of the ingredients and serve.

Serving suggestion: roast chicken, pickled chilli and herbs. Get a few store-bought steamed bao buns and you have a winning snack.

Caramelised-onion and cumin hummus
Ingredients:
1kg hummus base
400g caramelised-onion puree (see below)
2 tbs salt
2 tbs toasted cumin seeds, lightly crushed
50ml pomegranate molasses

To make caramelised-onion puree:
1.5kg brown onions, peeled and finely sliced
200g butter
20g red Aleppo pepper
Salt and white pepper to taste

Place all ingredients for the caramelised-onion puree in a large, heavy-based pan on a low heat and cook until golden brown and sticky. Place in a food processor and puree until smooth. Mix 400g of the onion base into the remaining ingredients and serve.

Serving suggestion: add the hummus to a plate and make a small well. Add thinly sliced rare roast beef with some salad leaves, radishes and a walnut dressing. This can be a great starter dish.

Smoked hummus
Ingredients:
1kg hummus base
1/2 tsp smoked essence (can be found online. A little goes a long way – be sparing)
50ml lemon juice
1 tbs salt

Mix all ingredients together and serve.

Serving suggestion: For me, this is the simplest and best hummus on the list. Buy some lamb mince, cook it with diced onions and some chilli. Add salt, almonds, pine nuts and parsley. Serve a huge pile of it onto a bowl of warm hummus and scoop it up with some fresh Arabic pita bread.

Peanut-butter hummus
Ingredients:
1kg hummus base
500g peanut butter
200ml warm water
50g pomegranate molasses

Warm the peanut butter in the microwave with the water and pomegranate molasses, just to loosen it up a little and make it easier to mix together. Mix well with the hummus base and serve.

Serving suggestion: roast pork belly (with good crackling) chopped into chunks, with roasted carrots and Brussels sprouts.


Biggie Smalls
86 Smith Street, Collingwood
(03) 9417 3531
biggiesmalls.com.au