Baba ghanoush, also spelled baba ganoush or baba ghanouj, is a Levantine appetizer consisting of mashed cooked eggplant, olive oil, lemon juice, various seasonings, and sometimes tahini.
The eggplant is traditionally baked or broiled over an open flame before peeling, so that the pulp is soft and has a smoky taste. It is a typical meze (‘starter’) of the regional cuisine, often served as a side to a main meal and as a dip for pita bread.
Eastern Arabian cuisine versions of the dish vary slightly from those of the Levant by spicing it with coriander and cumin; those versions might be minimally spiced and topped with thinly chopped parsley or coriander leaves.
I did mine today outdoors on my fire pit! Nothing beats the intense smoky flavour and the whole rustic method I find enchanting!
Nuanced and balanced, baba ganoush tastes earthy, subtly smoky, slightly tangy, and nutty from the tahini -the flavors all work together to accentuate (not overpower) the eggplant. And if you get the balance just right, it is pure magic!
Cook your eggplants until they’re done, then cook them some more. Your eggplants should be deeply charred and completely tender, collapsing at the slightest touch and giving no resistance when poked with a toothpick or knife. When you lift them from their stem caps with tongs, they should hang completely limp. A good rule of thumb? Cook them until you think they’re burnt beyond saving, and that’s when you’re good to go.
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons tahini paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley optional
Grill the eggplant whole, cutting slits into the sides of the eggplant. Cutting slits into the eggplant ensures even cooking and also allows some of the smoke to penetrate, giving the baba ganoush delicious flavour!
Insert the garlic slices into the flesh. These will cook and soften in the charring heat. I love the flavour of the cooked roasted garlic in my babaganoush.
Place the aubergines on some foil.
Drizzle the aubergines with oil and rub all over.
Now take the aubergines in foil and place on some white embers.
Let them cook for a good 20 mins. Keep turning them around to let the skin char. Check to see how they are. You want the flesh really soft.
When you know they are cooked place in a bowl to cool slightly. Cover and keep any juices as this is smoky.
Once the eggplant collapses and is nicely charred on all sides, place it in a bowl and cover the whole thing tightly with foil until it is cool enough to handle about 20 minutes. Save what is left in the bottom of the bowl – the smoky liquid, homemade. You’ll use this to season the baba ganoush!
Peel the charred eggplant and chop. I like the chopping method because little nuggets of eggplant in the final dip are really nice. What you will end up with is about 2 cups of eggplant flesh- very little compared to the 3 eggplants you started off with!
Strain the chopped eggplant, and let it drain for about ten minutes. You don’t need to save this liquid,
I start by whipping up my eggplant, garlic, and lemon juice with a fork as if I were scrambling eggs, breaking down the eggplant into a rough paste. Then I stir in the remaining ingredients, I add the tahini and whip it in vigorously until it’s incorporated. Finally, I slowly drizzle in olive oil (and plenty of it—a good few tablespoons for my three eggplants), whisking hard the whole time.
Eggplant when cooked becomes creamy and silky and luxurious. It melts in your mouth. If you like your baba ganoush a little extra creamy, add a couple of tablespoons of plain yogurt or drizzle with olive oil.
Serve Baba Ganoush in a beautiful shallow serving bowl, with a drizzle of good quality olive oil, a sprinkling of Aleppo chili flakes, or zaatar spice, Dukkah, or sumac – and some fresh herbs like parsley if you like.
I served mine with a pinch of cumin, chilli powder and pinch of chilli flakes!
You can also cook the aubergines by grilling!
Place the prepared eggplants and grill on a baking sheet until very tender, about 60 minutes.
Test by piercing the skin with a fork, and continue grilling until the eggplant is cooked, charred and the flesh is very tender and collapsing.
Cover in a bowl to cool. Once cool remove the charred skin and scoop out the cooked eggplant, discard the skins and drain in a strainer for 10 minutes.
Mash with a fork and add the tahini paste, garlic, salt and lemon juice. Now you could also pulse in a food processor or blender, but I find mashing works just as easily here. Serve as above.
The baba ganoush can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. Let it come back to room temperature before serving.
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