Baba Ghanoush

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

This eggplant dip is one of the more notable dishes of Levantine cuisine, usually eaten as a meze or starter with pita bread. The name Baba Ghanoush (or Ganoush or Ghanouj) in Arabic loosely means 'a pampered or coy father-like figure'. Let's not feed too much of it to the men around us then ;)

The preparation involves baking or broiling the eggplant so it gets a smoky taste, before whizzing it with olive oil and tahini. Most of the time involved in making this easy and delicious dip is the waiting for the eggplant to char in the oven. After that, it's just your blender standing in between those roasted eggplants and the baba ghanoush you're going to dip that pita in.

Most recipes will char the eggplant directly on an open flame or broil them in the oven. Uhh ... my smoke detector is much too sensitive for either of that, so I opt for the slow but sure way to achieve the desired 'roastiness' with nary a hint of blackened bit to set off the alarm. Yes, many a recipe have been adapted over the years so as not to wake the neighbours. So if you want to save a couple of minutes, do char the cut eggplants on the gas burner using tongs, or place them under the broiler. Whatever works for you to get a deep dark brown tint on the skin.

I was on a Mediterranean roll lately and made baba ghanoush, hummus and tzatziki, and enjoyed it with pita bread. And what a light yet satisfying lunch it made on a hot summer day!

1.5 kg (3 lbs or about 3 medium) eggplants
6-8 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp sumac (can substitute with 1/2 cup lemon juice)
Freshly ground black pepper
Quite a bit of salt

To serve:
Olive oil
Sprinkle of paprika
Parsley sprigs

1. Preheat the oven to 230C or 450F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Wash, then cut eggplants in quarters. Pierce them with a sharp knife in the thickest part of the flesh.
3. Place the eggplant chunks in the baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, turning them over once around the 15 minute mark.

4. When sufficiently browned, remove from the oven and immediately place a foil on top to steam the eggplants, this makes the skin so much easier to peel off.
5. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes and when safe to handle, remove the skin and place the eggplant chunks directly in your blender.

6. Add the remaining ingredients: garlic, tahini, olive oil, sumac, some salt and pepper, then blend till however smooth or coarse you prefer.
7. Taste and adjust. You may need more salt than you think.
8. Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with a bit of paprika, and strategically position that sprig of parsley. (You are going to take a picture of it, I assume).

One bite with a pita bread and you'll wonder why you bought these from the store all those years. Ahem ... speaking from experience, of course.

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