Since Bar Saracen closed in January, chef Tom Sarafian has been bringing his extremely likeable Middle Eastern menus to pop-ups and residencies all over Melbourne.
Now, he's bottling one of his signatures, a hummus that's taken him three years to perfect, as part of his own line of condiments, Sarafian Melbourne, which he's launching this Friday.
Made with Western Australian chickpeas, Mount Zero olive oil and tahini from Lebanon, the hummus takes three days to make.
First, the chef picks over the chickpeas and soaks them for two days, then uses a pressure cooker to soften them before blitzing twice, once hot and once cold, in a machine imported from France that can handle 36 kilograms of hummus at a time.
"It's real hummus. It's not the supermarket stuff that everyone's used to. It's freshly made, it's quite soft and unctuous in its texture," Sarafian says.
The Armenian-Australian chef, who has cooked with Greg Malouf and led the kitchens at Rumi and Bar Saracen, has carefully selected every ingredient for the recipe, choosing extra-large chickpeas because they produce a softer texture, a mild-tasting olive oil, and his own toum (Lebanese garlic paste) to avoid the harsh flavour of raw garlic.
"There are only seven ingredients in my hummus. I want to be able to taste every one in harmony," he says.
He also wants people to see the Middle Eastern staple as more than an addition to the snack table and will be regularly publishing recipes online to showcase its possibilities.
Right now, he likes it on sandwiches with charred capsicum and black olives, or served with steak and chips, in place of mustard.
The hummus is the first product to hit shelves but it will be joined by at least three other products in the coming months.
As for the pop-ups, he'll still find time for those in between batches of hummus.
Available at Meatsmith, Baker Bleu, Morning Market and All Are Welcome (Northcote) from Friday, August 27, RRP $13-$15 for 300ml.