This month we feature another Mediterranean recipe. Baba Ganoush is a dish that comes from The Levant region in modern day Lebanon. Its original name in Arabic is بابا غنوج — which roughly translates into English as ‘Pampered Papa‘. It’s created from eggplant puréed with olive oil, tomatoes, onions, and spices.
The version we’re going to make today features roasted eggplant and tahini — making this a spicy variation of Baba Ghanoush sometimes called Moutabel, or متبل in Arabic, which means ‘spiced‘. You can serve this with triangles of pita bread or toasted bread as a delicious appetizer.
First a few words about tahini. What is it exactly? As you might guess, the name is also Arabic in origin; it comes from the verb طحن , which means to grind. Tahini is actually a paste made of ground sesame seeds; it’s often available in the “international foods” section of the grocery store. Manufacturing tahini is an interesting process: sesame seeds are soaked in water and then crushed; the bran sinks while the kernels float to the top where they are skimmed, toasted and ground into an oily paste.
Tahini is exceptionally rich in minerals, including copper, zinc, iron, manganese and selenium. It’s also good source of calcium and protein, amino acids and omega-3 and omega-6 oils. Once the Tahini packaging is opened, keep it refrigerated.
Now onto the recipe. One of the more popular versions of Baba Ghanoush can be found in food blogger David Lebovitz’s recipe book My Paris Kitchen.
Lebovitz’ first big break in the food world was landing a job at Alice Waters famed Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse. Here he discusses his 2014 book My Paris Kitchen in this Google Talk video.
Here is your shopping list for Baba Ghanoush (Makes 6 – 8 Servings):
|Eggplants (round ‘globe’ variety)||2 medium (2 lbs or 900 g)|
|Tahini (sesame seed paste)||1/4 to 1/2 cup (60 – 120 ml)|
|Lemon Juice (fresh squeezed if available)||1/4 cup (60 ml)|
|Garlic Cloves||2 to 3, finely minced|
|Ground Cumin||1/4 teaspoon|
|Kosher Salt||1/2 teaspoon|
|Parsley Leaves (fresh)||2 tablespoons|
|Olive Oil (optional)||1 tablespoon|
Prepare the Eggplant
There are three ways to get the smoky taste; try the method that you’re most comfortable with and best fits your kitchen set up.
Method 1: Stove Top Charring
First, preheat the oven to 375F. Lebovitz suggests pricking the eggplants a few times, then placing them directly on a gas burner flame (in the style of heating a tortilla or searing skin of a Mexican chili) turning them until they are quite charred on the outside. Five minute is enough unless you want really smokey flavor, in that case up to 10 minutes. Then transfer them into the oven onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for 20-30 minutes, until they are soft. Remove and let cool.
Method 2: Broiling then Roasting
Once again, preheat the oven to 375F. The Inspired Taste blog suggests broiling the eggplant on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil for a couple minutes on all sides. Then roast them in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Remove and let cool for 10-15 minutes to ease handling.
Method 3: Grill and Steam in a Bag
Simply Recipes has a different method using a grill and paper bags. Preheat the grill. Poke the eggplants with a fork and rub the outsides with little bit of olive oil. Grill over high heat, turning the eggplant to cook each side until it blackens. Then put the eggplant into paper bag, close it up and let eggplants steam for 15 to 20 minutes.
Mix the Ingredients Together
While the eggplant is cooking, you can mix up the other ingredients — except the olive oil and parsley which are set aside for a garnish at the end. If you’re a big fan of tahini, use up to half a cup, but for most people, a quarter cup is fine.
Once the eggplants have cooled, you can slice them open in half, drain the excess liquid and scrape out the pulp flesh.
If you’re a fan of food processors or blenders, now’s a great time to purée the eggplant pulp with the other ingredients. Otherwise, you can mash the mixture together with fork.
Serve your Baba Ganoush
Garnish the Baba Ganoush with parsley leaves and a little olive oil. Serve with pita bread, crackers or toasted bread.
This recipe will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days; some say it tastes even better the second day.