Classic Baba Ghanoush

Classic Baba Ghanoush

Classic Baba Ghanoush

In Arabic, “baba” means father and “ghanoush” means spoiled. 

This “spoiled dad” dip is the creamier companion to houmous. The first time I tasted Baba Ghanoush was during our trip to Cairo 15 years ago. I didn’t know what it was then but the taste lingered and I would always look for it in the restaurants once back in the UK.  

I have made baba ghanoush many times for my family over the years, and it took me some time to find the correct balance of flavors. I always feel that you need to like eggplant/aubergine to like this dish as it has a smoky taste. If you don’t like eggplant, don’t bother with this dish as it’s a true celebration of eggplant.

Ingredients

2 medium eggplants, roasted
1/3 cup tahini
3 cloves garlic
2 whole fresh lemons  juiced (according to taste)
1/2 teaspoon roasted powdered cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt or more to taste
Pinch cayenne pepper/ Paprika/chilli powder (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh parsley for garnish (optional); you can also top with a sprinkle of paprika or smoked paprika

Directions

Step-1

Slit the eggplant and stuff it with garlic. I find this is the best way to induce the lovely garlic flavor into the eggplant.

Step-2

Roast the eggplant. You will find that roasting over an open flame will produce a smokier, richer flavor.  Eggplant should take 15-20 min to roast it. Remember to keep turning it around to make sure it is cooked evenly.

Place the roasted eggplant in a large bowl and cover with cling film. This will help in taking the skin off easily.

 

Step-3

Place the roasted eggplant pulp into a bowl with half of the smoky cooking liquid (sometimes I keep the cooking liquid aside to pour over at the end) Discard the skin and reserve the remaining cooking liquid. Use a fork and/or spoon to mash the eggplant.

Add tahini, fresh lemon juice, roasted powdered cumin powder, salt, cayenne pepper and 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil to the mashed eggplant.  Mix until well combined.

Taste the dip. Add additional tahini, lemon juice, salt or cayenne pepper, according to your taste. Serve  drizzled with olive oil and fresh parsley!

Tips & Variations

  1. Make sure to use tahini you love in this recipe. If it tastes bitter, your baba ganoush will also be bitter. I love adding some of the juice that collects on the plate when the eggplants cool into the baba ganoush. It gives the dip a lot of smoky flavour, but the added liquid will thin the dip a little.
  2.  I always put a piece of aluminium foil on the cooker to catch any drips from the eggplant while roasting. Easy cleaning afterwards.
  3. Leftover baba ganoush can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days. I prefer the flavour of baba ganoush while it is still warm from the grill, but it’s also delicious served chilled or at room temperature.
  4. Toasted pita wedges or pita chips are great, too. For a full Mediterranean spread, serve this baba ganoush with herbed houmous and fresh salads.
  5. If you can, seek out smaller varieties of eggplant as they will have less seeds and make the dip creamier. Not only are they better tasting, they cook faster, too.
  6. If you want your baba ganoush to have that certain something that sets it apart, the easiest thing to do is to add a dash of smoked paprika and/or harissa.
  7. You can also cook the eggplant/aubergine in the oven. Heat the oven to 200C/190C fan/gas 6. Slit the eggplant and stuff it with garlic and put them on a baking sheet. Roast for about 40-45 mins, or until the aubergines are completely tender.
  8. If you like a smoother texture you can pulse the eggplant and all the other ingredients in the end instead of breaking it up with a fork. Pulse or run the food processor ever so briefly just until everything is blended (avoid over-blending).
  9. My last tip is to salt the dip generously—eggplant is inherently bitter, and salt reduces that bitterness. This dip isn’t truly epic until it’s properly seasoned with salt.

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