Baba Ganoush is a delightful Middle Eastern dish which literally translates as “pampered father”. There is some controversy about whether this smokey eggplant/aubergine dish should have tahini (sesame paste) blended in it or not. I fall firmly on the side of ‘not’.
Although most blogs and websites I have come across include tahini as an important ingredient in Baba Ganoush, in my experience living in the Middle East, Baba Ganoush has always been served without tahini. The Baba Ganoush which I know is a tangy, textured, multi-dimentional dip made from pureed chargrilled eggplants studded with tomatoes, walnuts and parsley, and drizzled with pomegranate syrup.
For those of you who want to add tahini, have a look at my recipe for Moutabel, which is another popular Middle Eastern smokey eggplant dish (also delicious!).
(Serves 4-6 as a side dish)
Ingredients: (makes 2 cups)
2 lb / 900g eggplant (aubergine) – this is usually 2 medium-sized eggplants
Half a medium tomato, ripe and firm, deseeded and finely diced
3 Tbsp walnuts, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and grated/finely chopped
2-3 Tbsp lemon juice – this is usually 1 – 1 1/2 juicy lemons
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin powder
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for roasting the eggplant)
1 Tbsp parsley
2-4 tsp pomegranate syrup (also called pomegranate molasses/concentrate) (optional)
- To achieve the authentic smokey flavor, you need to cook the eggplant on an open flame. If you have a gas stove or barbecue, place the entire eggplant directly on the open flame and cook it until the inside is soft.
- Alternatively, you can roast the eggplant in a preheated oven at 400F/200C (although it won’t have the chargrilled flavor, it will still be very good). To do this, pour 2 Tbsp olive oil into an oven proof-dish. Take your eggplants (aubergines) and poke holes in the skin all around the surface. Place the eggplants in the oven-proof dish and rub the olive oil all over the skin. Place in the oven for 40-60 minutes (turning once halfway through). The eggplant is ready when you press down on it and it is very soft.
- Remove the eggplants from the heat and slice them in half to allow them to cool quickly. Let them sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. The skin will peel off easily, either using your fingers or a fork and knife.
- Take the peeled eggplant and chop it very roughly. Place it in a colander (in the sink or over a bowl). Place a small plate on top of the eggplant in the colander to weight it down. Press down the plate and leave it for about 30 minutes to let the liquid come out. After 30 minutes, press the plate down again to squeeze the last of the liquid out.
- If you want to use a food processor, put the eggplant, 2 garlic cloves, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp cumin powder, 2-3 Tbsp lemon juice, 2 Tbsp olive oil, and 1 Tbsp parsley into the food processor and pulse to desired consistency (keep it chunky). Remember, most of the ingredients can easily be added after processing, so it is better to start with the smaller suggested quantities of the seasonings and add more after tasting.
- If you want to make the Baba Ganoush by hand, remove the eggplant from the colander and place it on a chopping board. Chop it up finely (I recommend using a large cook’s knife if you have one). Stop when you are happy with the texture. In a bowl, combine the eggplant with 2 grated/finely chopped garlic cloves, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp cumin powder, 2-3 Tbsp lemon juice, 2 Tbsp olive oil, and 1 Tbsp parsley. I recommend starting with the smaller suggested quantities of the seasonings and adding more after tasting. Remove from the food processor.
- Add the diced tomatoes and chopped walnuts. Fold all the ingredients together.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- To serve, remove from the refrigerator and give it a good stir. Pile the Baba Ganoush onto a platter or bowl, drizzle with 2-4 tsp pomegranate syrup, and serve with flat-bread or veggie sticks.