What can I say about baba ghanoush? I love it. Love it. Love it some more. To me, it is one of the best eggplant appetizers that have been known to the world. Maybe I am biased, because I am an eggplant lover. But I seriously do not know anyone who doesn’t like this delicious Middle Eastern dip. It is made with roasted eggplants, mashed, then mixed with tahini, garlic, and lemon juice.
In Arabic “baba” is “father” and “ghanoush” is “spoiled,” so “baba ghanoush” (alternative spellings: baba ganoush, baba ghanouj) means “spoiled father.” One source translates it as “father’s darling.” Pretty amusing name, isn’t it? Etymology of the name aside, baba ghanoush rocks.
If you’ve tried this dip in a restaurant and have been wondering how they make it—know that it is not difficult at all. Well, if you have a good recipe with the right instructions, and with all the cooking tips and secrets revealed. So may I proudly present to you my no-fail recipe that I’ve perfected to beat any restaurant-made baba ghanoush (picture me very serious and feeling very competitive with this last line:)). Enjoy, my friends!
Serves about 4
A few pointers before you begin:
1. Best baba ghanoush is made with eggplants roasted oven wood embers or open fire–they acquire that smoky flavor that is ideal for that superior taste of the dip (see Directions).
2. Buy medium-size eggplants. Globe eggplants are not the best candidates for baba ghanoush as they are too big to roast evenly, especially if you are using ember-roasting or gas-stove roasting method.
3. Watch for the seeds inside the roasted eggplants. Too dark and too many may not look nice in the finished dip. Refer to the recipe for additional information.
4. I love adding plain yogurt to my baba ghanoush because it brightens its color and adds a creamy texture to it (secret revealed). Recommended.
5. Although I’ve tried to perfect the recipe as much as I could, feel free to add more tahini, garlic, or lemon juice to your baba ghanoush, to your taste.
8 medium-size dark-skin eggplants, such as Italian
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, passed through a garlic press
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
Olive oil, for drizzling
Finely chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Sumac, for garnish (optional)
First, roast the eggplants. There are several methods you can use, depending on what is available to you. The goal is to have the skin charred and the flesh softened. Once done, set the eggplants aside to cool.
1) On a Woodfire Grill (recommended method; best flavor): Start a wood fire and let the fire burn down until there are no flames and the embers glow. Bury the eggplants in the embers and roast them about 15 minutes. You can also spear the eggplants onto a metal skewer and set the skewer above the embers. In this case, rotate the skewer from time to time to allow for the even charring all around.
2) On a Gas Stove (good, too; you will still get that smoky flavor): Place the eggplants directly over the flames on your gas stove. Grip the eggplants with tongs and turn them from time to time as needed, to allow for the even charring all around. (I have an electric stove with flat plates, so I place the eggplants directly on the plates and roast over medium heat, turning from time to time to char them all around, about 10 minutes. I still get some smoky flavor.)
3) In the Oven (least recommended; not much smoky flavor): Place the eggplants on a baking sheet and roast in a 400°F (200°C) oven until the skins have charred and the flesh is tender, about 25 minutes.
Once the eggplants are cool enough to handle, peel off their skins completely. Now, check the seeds–if they are too dark and many, scoop them out (don’t discard—just sprinkle them with salt and eat!). If the seeds are light and not many, leave as is. Cut off the eggplant stalks.
Next, place the flesh in a medium mixing bowl and mash with a fork. Don’t process in a food processor! The eggplant should remain somewhat chunky.
Add the tahini, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and plain yogurt. Season with salt to taste. Stir to mix well. Spoon the dip onto a plate. Drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle with parsley and, if desired, with sumac. Serve with bread or pita toasts.