A room full of participants are busy blending, slicing, mixing, scraping and tossing a variety of colourful ingredients as they perfect their take on the Arabian delicacy in just 30 minutes in the hope of winning Oman’s Hummus Games.
Some are food bloggers, a couple are expert cooks, while others just have a passion for the humble hummus. The prize at stake was the honour of having their recipe served at Semsom branches worldwide for a limited time.
Participants were given the choice of more than 30 ingredients to get creative with, including cherry tomatoes, lettuce, mint, coriander, bananas, lemon, oranges, paprika, thyme, oregano and chilli powder, as they sought to put a new spin on an old favourite. Some of the contestants had clearly planned out a path to success in advance and knew exactly which ingredients they wanted from the table, while others tackled their task with a more impromptu approach.
The expert panel of judges, including Semsom’s CEO, Christine Assouad Sfeir, and the head chef of the Oman branch, Ali, were looking for entries that pushed boundaries in terms of aroma, colour, taste and presentation, as well as coming up with an original name.
“There are two factors that decide a perfect hummus; the type of hummus beans and the method of cooking, as well as the quality of sesame paste and the ratio used,” says chef Ali. “I enjoyed how all the participants were so enthusiastic about creating their signature hummus. The atmosphere was exciting and everyone had loads of fun.”
Working on the same recipe for half an hour, contestants had the chance to taste and re-taste their recipes after tinkering with the ratios of herbs, spices and veggies. People were seen scraping lemon rind into their dish and others were slicing apples. Regardless of taste, all of the entries looked appetising as the judges did their rounds at the end of the competition.
Y made a simple hummus using thyme, paprika and chilli powder with some olive oil and coriander to blend the flavours, garnished with pomegranate seeds, cherry tomatoes, mint and yellow and red pepper.
But it was “The Green Goddess”, that was crowned the winning Muscat Hummus, much to the delight of its makers, Susan Sarada and Oneza Tabish.
“Of all the creative cooking contests that I’ve participated in, Semsom’s The Hummus Games has been the most fun and challenging. Hummus with a twist was a fabulous opportunity to bring out one’s creativity,” says Oneza.
“My partner Susan and I brainstormed as to what to do and decided on a tri-colour hummus, inspired by Oman’s flag. In 20 minutes, we made three varieties of hummus – The Red Devil, Lemony Angel and The Green Goddess. The judges loved The Green Goddess unanimously because it had avocado in it. This was the twist they relished.”
Prep time: 5 minutes
Ready in: 5 minutes
Blend chickpeas, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin, salt, and sesame oil in a food processor. Strain reserved bean liquid into the mixture as it blends until desired consistency is achieved.