Possibly the most popular party dish of the 21st century, hummus has developed into so much more than a snack – it’s a way of life.

From the vegan explosion of the past few years to the surging popularity of the Mediterranean diet, hummus has played an integral part in bringing a taste of the Middle East to tables around the world. For most – at least here in South Africa – hummus was something first tasted as part of a pita pocket stuffed full of falafel or as part of a mezze platter in a restaurant. Hummus at home was a concept that didn’t yet exist. Although in my mother’s case, a packet of powdered mixture that needed to be combined with water stood in as the only hummus available at the time. Fortunately for us, powdered hummus remained behind in the Eighties. Today, one would be hard-pressed to find a supermarket that doesn’t stock hummus. Traditionally of Syrian or Lebanese descent, this purée of chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and salt has made it’s way across cuisines and cultures, appearing on plates with Greek lamb, with French crudités or infused with everything from jalapeño peppers to roasted beetroot.

To celebrate hummus, I’ve rounded up my top three favourite recipes – each one is reason enough to get blending.

Classic Hummus with Crispy Chickpeas

Essentially a healthy alternative to potato chips or croutons, these crispy oven-roasted chickpeas offer a tempting topping to a bowl of classic hummus.

Prep time: 10 mins /Cook time: 25 mins /Serves: 4

You will need:

  • 2 400g tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 30ml tahini paste
  • Juice of half a lemon (about 30ml)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled (optional)
  • Coarse ground salt
  • Chilli powder (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Toss the contents of one tin of chickpeas in 30ml of the olive oil and scatter over a lined baking sheet. Season with salt and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the chickpeas are golden brown and crispy. Leave them to cool to room temperature.

In a high-powered blender (I use my NutriBullet) combine the remaining chickpeas with the tahini paste, lemon juice and a glug of olive oil. Season with salt and add in the garlic if using. Blitz the ingredients on high until you have a smooth paste. Add a little more olive oil if the hummus is too stodgy. The aim is to have a lovely silky spread. Dish the hummus into a shallow bowl and top with some of the crispy chickpeas, a splash of olive oil and a small shake of chilli powder for colour and warmth.

Serve the hummus with toasted pita triangles or crunchy veggies.

A HOST OF HUMMUS

Charred Aubergine Hummus

While this version might contain too much garlic for some (not me!), a big ol’ bowl of this Baba Ganoush-inspired hummus is my current favourite snack.
Made with charred aubergine and creamy yoghurt, I also add a tin of drained haricot beans to bulk up the protein content of the dip. Garlic is de rigueur, with anything from one to three cloves going in – depending on your level of desire to avoid vampires, mosquitoes and humanity in general.

Prep time: 10 mins /Cook time: 25 mins /Serves: 4

You will need:

  • 400g tin of haricot beans, drained
  • 1 large aubergine
  • 15ml olive oil plus extra for drizzling
  • 15ml plain full fat Greek yoghurt
  • 30ml tahini paste
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2ml dried cumin
  • Coarse ground salt
  • 5ml dried chilli flakes
  • 2ml dried seaweed (nori) flakes

Spear the aubergine with a toasting fork and char over a gas flame, allowing the skin to blister and blacken. This step can also be done under the grill of your oven, with the aubergine on a lined baking sheet. Once charred, split open the skin and scoop out the flesh of the aubergine, adding it to a high-powered blender with the haricot beans, olive oil, yoghurt, tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic and cumin. Add a little salt and blitz until smooth.

Serve the Charred Aubergine Hummus topped with yet more olive oil and a sprinkle each of crushed chilli and dried seaweed flakes – the latter to up the umami flavour set by the aubergine.
Here I’ve greedily scooped my spread on to store-bought wraps that have been lightly toasted, their delicate crunch providing a delicious juxtaposition to the richness of the spread.

A HOST OF HUMMUS

A HOST OF HUMMUS

Roasted Cauliflower Hummus with Caramelized Shallots

Containing all the best autumnal flavours, I enjoy this hummus most when the weather turns cooler. Roasting the cauliflower also lends a wonderfully nutty taste to the hummus that is best paired with warm flatbread.

Prep time: 10 mins /Cook time: 25 mins /Serves: 4

You will need:

  • 500g whole cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 6 shallots, peeled but left whole
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 50ml balsamic vinegar
  • 30ml tahini paste
  • Juice of half a lemon (about 30ml)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • Coarse ground salt and pepper
  • Paprika flakes (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Scatter the cauliflower florets over a lined baking sheet and drizzle with some of the olive oil. Roast the cauliflower for 20 minutes or until the florets are lightly browned and tender. Set aside and leave to cool. Over low heat, gently caramelise the shallots in about 30ml of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar, being careful to keep them intact when turning. Once soft and sticky, set the shallots aside to cool.

In a high-powered blender, combine the cauliflower, three of the shallots, 25ml of olive oil, the tahini paste, lemon juice and garlic and season with salt. Blitz on high until smooth, adding a little more olive oil if necessary. If required, cool the hummus down to room temperature before serving, topping it with the remaining shallots, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika flakes.

A HOST OF HUMMUS

A HOST OF HUMMUS

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