Baba Ghanoush

السلام عليكم (Hello)

Baba Ghanoush (from herein, BabaG) is a firm favourite of my life.  Until quite  recently, I didn’t know this was something the majority of people I know are not that familiar with.  I thought it had made it to western tables along with hummus.  I am wrong.  Fast overview – BabaG is an aubergine dip originating in the middle east – particularly the Levant, which I believe historically  included modern day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Palestine.  From my knowledge, most areas of the middle east have a version of this, with subtle changes  based on location, tradition, preference, and what is in the cupboard.  In Syria (and other middle eastern countries), there is another dish called mutabel (mouttabal), not to be confused with BabaG, despite the similarity.  I believe that mutabel also includes yoghurt, and BabaG does not.

So, I’ve made this a few times recently, it’s really easy, there is no way you can buy anything that tastes as good as homemade, it’s cheap, good as a dip for pitta, as a sandwich spread, on a mezze platter, with falafel, or even thrown into a fusion  dinner where Spain meets the Middle East.  I feel confident with this dip -everyone who has tried it has asked for the recipe, here it is:

Ingredients

2 medium-large aubergines

2 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste – I prefer the light one)

2 tbsp olive oil

2 medium garlic cloves, crushed.

Salt and black pepper (to taste)

Juice of half to a whole lemon (to taste)

 

Method

  1. Turn your oven up to 200c, and put the aubergines in there*, straight on the rack, cook for 30 mins, or until the skin is totally black and feels like paper when you tap it.  Check the flesh is soft in the middle by giving the aubergines a little squeeze.  If it’s soft, they are done. Remove and put them in a large mixing bowl until they are cool enough to handle.
  2. Once cooled, you should be able to pull the skin off the aubergines, and remove the ‘hats’. Do that…
  3. Chop the flesh with a knife, carelessly (without chopping yourself), just keep going, shopping and mashing, make it as much like a dip as you can.
  4. Add the other ingredients, and mix really, really well. TASTE IT. Is it good? If it is a no, think about why, and adjust your lemon, tahini, salt, pepper or garlic until you are happy 🙂
  5. This should be served cold, like revenge.

You can decorate this to try and impress people, here are your options:

  • Pile it up in a serving dish and pour a little more olive oil over the top, then add a sprinkle of paprika.
  • Add some pomegranate seeds and parsley, chopped, strewn erotically over the surface.  Or just one or the other of them.
  • Add chopped walnuts for a complete SURPRISE (especially for a nut allergy sufferer).
  • Add some chopped tomato.

Any or all of these options can be combines or stand alone. Be free to create.

*The real method involves holding the aubergine over an open flame (something authentic and beautiful, like your gas hob) and toasting the skin to blackness, giving the dip a real smokiness.  If you can be bothered, you can do this. I don’t because I really do have enough burns, and I think this method gets good results. If you are desperate for smokiness, but like me, sick of burns, I suggest you buy some liquid smoke and use that.

شكرا (thanks),

Kat

 

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