Baba Ghanoush

by Karen on Monday, April 11, 2011

Post image for Baba Ghanoush

Almost everyone is familiar with baba ghanoush. The less popular and frankly– uglier cousin of hummus (although not as obscure as this cousin) is traditional starter throughout certain parts of the Middle East and the Levant, with each region having its own spin on the eggplant spread.  While hummus enjoys popularity in home kitchens (largely due to its simplicity), baba ghanoush is not made as often by the home cook.  However, the only extra step for baba ghanoush is cooking the eggplant, and after that the mixture just goes for a whirr in a food processor.  The fundamental ingredients are eggplant, tahini (sesame paste), lemon, olive oil and garlic.  From here other things can be added from cumin and parsley and even mayonnaise, which is how it is prepared sometimes in Israel.

Most people would argue that the key to great baba ganoush is the smokey quality of the dip which is achieved by aggressively charing the eggplant. And I would agree with most people. In fact, if you have that down, you could get creative by adding other ingredients or playing with the proportions so the baba ganoush is to your liking. You can do this under a broiler or on a grill and both ways work really well. The key is to know this: the eggplant should look so charred and wrinkly that it looks nearly inedible. Don't worry about overcooking it or burning it– trust me, you'd have to forget about your eggplant to destroy it.

- 3 eggplants
- 3 tbsps of tahini
- juice of half a lemon
- 1 small clove of garlic, minced (I'm not a big fan of dishes that have punch-you-in-the-face raw garlic, but if you like it, knock your socks off and add more)
- 2 tbsps of extra virgin olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon of ground cumin
- salt to taste
- pita bread

Prick your eggplants all over with a fork. If you skip this step you risk your eggplant bursting and all those lovely juices running out. Just watch those fingers. If using the grill, heat your grill on high and place your eggplant on the grill when it gets hot. Close the cover and turn the eggplant every 15 minutes or so until the skin is charred, black and wrinkly. Like a really big funky raisin.

If using the oven. Place the eggplants on a foil lined baking sheet and place under the broiler with the rack positioned on the highest level. Turn the eggplant every 5 minutes so that the entire eggplant gets evenly charred and black. Place them into a 400 degree oven and cook for another 30 minutes until it is super soft inside and wrinkled on the outside.

Let the eggplants cool down and slash them open lengthwise. Some eggplants can be watery inside, so using a spoon scrape the flesh out into a colander.  Let the eggplant drain out some of the excess liquid, but you still want some moisture so don't press to dry it out.

Transfer into a food processor or blender and pulse a couple of times. Add the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin and pinch of salt and blend to your liking. Transfer to a bowl and taste for more seasoning or salt and adjust as needed.  Enjoy this with some grilled pita bread or other flat bread.

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{ 17 comments }

Belinda @zomppa April 11, 2011 at 9:51 am

The smokiness is what makes it amazing! It ain’t ugly…it’s gorgeous!

deana@lostpastremembered April 11, 2011 at 10:13 am

I love smoke so I am a very bad girl and add smoked salt or liquid smoke (yeah, I know it’s bad for me). The result is so good. I hate to tell you but you even made baba ganoush look good… what a master you are!

Karen April 11, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Thanks Deana, you aren’t being bad– just resourceful ;) I LOVE smoked salt, have some Maldon that I use on tomatoes and eggs often– its incredible!

Sasha (Global Table Adventure) April 11, 2011 at 10:46 am

Between hummus and babaganoush, babaganoush is my favorite. There is a good version from Bulgaria that has roasted peppers added (Kyopolou)… so amazing. PS I love your description of the eggplant – like big funky raisins. Fun :)

Sasha (Global Table Adventure) April 11, 2011 at 10:48 am

Er, forgive my spelling. Baba ghanoush. Off to write that 100 times.

Karen April 11, 2011 at 12:19 pm

O interesting, will have to try that– I see you made it back in the “B” days :)

Orly @yumivore April 11, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Beautiful photos Karen and you captured the process beautifully. One of my favorite eggplant “salads” (salads can be dips or spreads in Israel). Would you believe it’s a challenge to get eggplants in the Bay Area these past few weeks (due to frozen crops). As soon as I get my hands on some … yum!

Lana April 11, 2011 at 4:36 pm

I love eggplant in any incarnation, and this is a beautiful one! I know it’s not the most photogenic spread, but it sure is tasty:)
If only I could convince my middle daughter to give it a try:(
Nice post, Karen! You managed to turn the pumpkin into a carriage:)

Tanvi@SinfullySpicy April 11, 2011 at 11:16 pm

I like the your introduction as “uglier” version of hummus.I like it better but because of the eggplant.There’s something really addictive about charred eggplant, I love the smoked flavor.Lovely clicks.Only “you” can make this look so pretty!

Kulsum at JourneyKitchen April 13, 2011 at 11:34 am

One of my favorite meals is kebobs with hummus, baba ganoush and pita bread! Love it. I just can’t get enough of smoky flavor of eggplant – it totally changes this *not so loved* vegetable to new level! And yeah I agree with Tanvi only you can make it look SO good :-)

Valerie April 14, 2011 at 9:26 am

Gorgeous! Love baba ghanoush – you’ve once again made me suddenly starving. Amazing isn’t it? That WTF big raisin up gives you such a miraculously delectable treat! (Whipping That Funky) :P

Karen April 14, 2011 at 1:09 pm

@Lana, Orly, Kulsum and Tanvi– thank you thank you! It’s a favorite of everyone’s :)

@ Val– creative use of WTF!

Ellie (Almost Bourdain) April 15, 2011 at 2:09 am

This is one of my favourite dip. Love the smokiness.

elle marie April 15, 2011 at 3:08 am

I really like the smokiness from baba Ghanoush, I love hummus, BG is much easier for me, as all the ingredients are always available. Fab photos.

Lentil Breakdown April 26, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Love, love, love baba! Gorgeous job as always!

Lan May 13, 2011 at 12:00 pm

have you ever had Foul Mudammas? i’d never heard of it but when i tried it, it actually reminded me of a poor man’s version of hummus.

i personally prefer baba ghanoush but don’t make it because of the cooking/smoking step.

Karen May 15, 2011 at 1:24 pm

I’ve never tried it before, but have heard of it and know i would love it. Hmmm maybe something new to try for a future post?

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