For my first post in the newly added category of my blog, I thought I’d start with a dish that is dear to my heart. It’s a recipe that’s been passed on from my Mom. I’ve watched her make this dish my entire life, and the aroma of roasted eggplants brings me back to my childhood, and my summers spent in Ehden.
These days you can find this dish packaged in plastic containers at the grocery store, but you obviously don’t need me to tell you that it’s just not the same.
Here, I will show you how to make authentic baba ghanouj at home.
It’s a funny little name, and maybe the complicated pronunciation (is it ghanOUSH or ghanOUJ? For the record, it’s ghanouj) can intimidate people in thinking it’s a complex dish, but I promise this is easy to make.
Although it is an uncomplicated recipe, it does require a bit of time, mainly for the roasting and cooling down process. I personally would do the roasting and cooling down the night before, and the assembly can easily be whipped up the next day.
So, what is baba ghanouj? It’s a dip made from broiled eggplants.
The secret to baba ghanouj is to broil the eggplant with its skin. I have seen recipes that call for slicing up the eggplants before putting them in the oven, and that’s a blasphemous no, in my opinion. I’m sure my Mom would agree.
The reason why leaving the skin on while broiling is important, is to conserve the flavours of the eggplants, creating “smoky” flavour. In fact, the real authentic way to do this would be to char it on a BBQ/grill, but of course an oven will do.
The biggest tips I can give about the broiling step is the following:
- Before putting them in the oven, make sure to poke holes all around the eggplants so that the juices can ooze out (I just use a fork).
- When should you take them out? When the skin is wrinkled, hardened to the touch and have some charred marks (I didn’t charr as much on this side, so you can broil them a bit more than this).
Once removed from the oven, you have to wait until the eggplants cool so you can peel off the skin, revealing the eggplants’ mushy and seedy interior.
Once your eggplants are all peeled, they should look and feel like a big mushy goo.
Cut off the tip and place your mushy eggplants in a strainer for about an hour. Some juice will run and you don’t want your final product to be too liquidy, so that’s the reason for the straining.
Once your eggplants are strained and no further juices are dripping, it’s time to baba ghanouj it up. Place your eggplants in a medium bowl and slice them in little pieces and later mushing them with a fork. Some people use a food processor for this step which you can totally do, but we’ve always done it by hand and it produced the same results.
And now for the fun part! To transform these mushy eggplants into the elegant and nutritious dip that it is, you’ll need tahini, garlic, lemon and salt. That’s it.
Mix and combine them all together and you’ll be greeted with a creamy garlicy, lemony, smoky bowl of beige goodness. As always, do a taste test and see if it needs more of something. Often times it might need a bit more salt or lemon, and in my case this time, I needed just a touch more tahini to get that “just right” taste.
When ready to serve, I personally love sprinkling some smoked paprika and adding a little drizzle of olive oil. The smoked paprika compliments the smokiness from the eggplant incredibly well. You can serve alongside fresh vegetable crudités or pita bread.
Bon appetit, or as the Lebanese say, sahten 🙂
- 2 large eggplants, washed, dried and poked with holes
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup tahini
- Juice from 1 lemon
- ½ tbsp salt (or to taste)
- Smoked paprika and olive oil, to garnish (optional)
- Place your oven rack at its highest level, leaving enough room for the eggplants to fit.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil to place your eggplants on.
- Broil on “High” until the skin becomes wrinkly, crispy and slightly charred, approx. 20-25 minutes.
- Remove, turn the eggplants on the other side, and repeat.
- Once both sides are crispy, remove the eggplants from oven. Holding the aluminum foil on each side, transfer on a cooling rack until completely cool, approx. 1 hour.
- Once cooled, peel the skin off and discard skin. Cut off the tip of the eggplant.
- In a medium bowl, cut the eggplants into little pieces and smush with a fork until texture becomes smooth. (at this point, you can refrigerate in a Tuppeware overnight).
- Add garlic, tahini sauce, lemon juice and salt. Mix to combine and taste.
- Sprinkle smoked paprika and drizzle olive oil drizzled as garnish.