This dip is my newest attempt to introduce the aubergine (eggplant) to my other half, who is carefully but definitely avoiding this vegetable. Baba ghanoush (baba ganush, baba ghannouj) is a Lebanese dish of baked and mashed aubergines with olive oil, tahini and various seasonings. The thing is this dip is more like the lighter version of hummus and you can hardly recognize the aubergine in it.
Once you know when the aubergines are done roasting and how it should look like, Baba ghanoush is the easiest thing to prepare. As the markets now are full of aubergines of every variety and every size it is hard to say how long exactly roasting will take, but the key is at the end of the process to achieve soft inside, with almost creamy texture.
This dip is similar to our traditional kyopolou (a roasted aubergine and sweet peppers relish) – and no wander, we are all from the same part of the world. But the texture and the tahini sent make all the difference. Anyway, if you are not a tahini lover, you can substitute it with an equal amount of mayonnaise or Greek yogurt instead.
Prep time: 40 minutes
2 – 3 medium aubergines (around 1 kg in total) 4 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste) 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp fresh parsley leaves, minced
To roast the aubergines you can use ether an oven or a grill. Poke them in few places with a fork and rub some olive oil in the skin. Place directly under the grill on high heat or arrange over the rack of the oven, preheated on 220°C/430°F (cover the bottom of the oven in order to collect the juices released by the vegetables, saving yourself the scrubbing later).
Grill, turning from each side, until the skin blackens and gets crispy from all sides. The same is valid for the oven roasting, but the skin there will probably not get crispy or black. Take of when the aubergines are very soft (about 20-25 minutes).
Place the hot vegetables in a container and cover. Leave them for about 10 minutes to steam.
When cool enough to handle either peel the skin or scoop out the pulp into a strainer. Let stand 10-15 minutes, allowing excess liquid to drain.
Transfer eggplant pulp to a blender, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth. Well, some believe the overmixed Baba ghanoush looses some of the flavors, so if you’re a purist with lots of time you can use just a wooden spoon or a pestle and mash and stir the aubergines by hand. We prefer it very smooth, and sometimes I actually add one or two tablespoons of cream cheese to the mix to make it even smoother and richer.
Season to taste with salt and some freshly ground pepper. Drizzle the rest of the olive oil on top, cover and chill. Before serving bring to room temperature and sprinkle with the chopped parsley.
Can be served with pita bread wedges, crackers or toasted bread, but it is also good with crispy celery and cucumbers.
Recipe adapted from Pennies on a Platter.