Baba Ganoush

Not that it needs an introduction, but Baba Ganoush (also spelt as Baba Ganouj) is a Middle Eastern smokey, creamy dip made from eggplants. Traditionally, eggplants are roasted over an open flame or wood fire, giving them a smoky taste with a hint of sweetness.

It is not practical to roast eggplants over an open flame in day to day cooking and I do not own a gas stove, so I experimented with a few different recipes to replicate that trademark smokiness of a classic Baba Ganoush. I tried oven roasting, microwaving, and even scorching them with a kitchen torch but failed to achieve that much desired smokiness.

I then decided to apply a method I often use in Pakistani cooking i.e. adding smoke to food using a piece of charcoal, and the result was phenomenal. The smokiness shined through and combined with the earthiness of Tahini and tanginess of lemon juice; it was a challenge stopping myself from eating it all before I took a picture.

Baba Ganoush serves as a guilt-free dip for your snacking needs. If you are tired of making Hummus all the time, try this Baba Ganoush recipe, it is as simple to put together and tastes incredible. I will even go as far as to say you will be hooked on this silky smoky eggplant delight for life! Scoop it up with pieces of toasted pita, nachos, or vegetable sticks. I can even eat it on its own by the spoonful!

Grill Eggplants by cutting them in half lengthwise and roasting them until their skins begin to collapse. Scoop out soft eggplant flesh with the help of a spoon.

How to make Baba Ganoush

Strain off Excess Moisture from the eggplants by placing the flesh in a mesh strainer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Smoke Eggplants using a small piece of lit charcoal. I lit a small piece of charcoal, placed in a small bowl made of aluminium foil, using a kitchen torch until it was red hot. I then transferred the coal into the bowl holding the eggplant and added a drop of oil onto the hot coal. I quickly sealed the eggplant bowl using a fitting lid and let it smoke for around 10 minutes. Look at the pictures for better understanding.

Make Baba Ganoush by combining the remaining ingredients and mashing them finely until you achieve a smooth dip like consistency.

Ingredients:

  • Eggplants 1 kg (3 medium)
  • Garlic Cloves 4; minced
  • Smoked Paprika ¼ tsp. (Use Cayenne if you prefer spicy)
  • Finely Chopped Parsley 2 tbsp.
  • Lemon Juice ¼ cup
  • Tahini 1/3 cup
  • Olive Oil ½ cup + 2 tbsp. extra
  • Salt to taste
  • Toasted Pine Nuts 2 tsbp. (for garnishing)
  • Pomegranate 2 tbsp. (for garnishing)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 200℃. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. Sprinkle cut surface with olive oil. Place eggplants cut side down onto a butter paper lined baking tray. Roast in the oven for approximately 45 minutes or until eggplants are extremely soft. Remove eggplants from oven and allow to cool slightly.

Using a spoon scoop out the flesh from eggplants and discard the skins. Place the eggplants into a mesh strainer for around 10 minutes to get rid of extra moisture. Transfer eggplants to a dry bowl and using a piece of charcoal smoke the eggplant. Light a small piece of charcoal placed in a small metal bowl, using a kitchen torch or similar tool until it is red hot. Then transfer the coal into the bowl with the eggplant and add a drop of oil onto the hot coal. Quickly seal the eggplant bowl using a fitting lid and let it smoke for around 10 minutes. Look at the pictures for better understanding.

Combine the remaining ingredients (except garnishing) with eggplant and mix well using a fork or pestle until you reach a smooth consistency. You can also use a food processor, but I like my Baba Ganoush a little chunky. Taste at this point and adjust seasoning as per your preference. Transfer Baba Ganoush into a serving bowl. Generously drizzle olive oil on top. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and pomegranate seeds. For best results refrigerate Baba Ganoush for at least an hour before serving. This will allow flavours to meld. Serve it with pieces of toasted pita, nachos, or vegetable sticks.

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