When the wisteria outside of my kitchen window starts blooming, I know spring is finally here.
I invariably start craving more vegetables and healthier and lighter meals.
Spring is a time to enjoy the longer evenings, sipping white wine in front of open windows with friends. Or to stare up at the clear blue skies from your picnic blanket before the hot stickiness and mosquitoes of the metropolitan summer hit full force.
Dips are the ideal addition to this kind of gathering, delicious concoctions to smear on bread, scoop up with crunchy vegetables and chips or eat with a spoon directly out of the bowl once the guests have gone (if you are actually lucky enough to have leftovers).
Oh, and of course dips are my kind of thing right now: the less I chew these days the better.
This is a Levantine classic, along with other favorites like hummus. It calls for the same traditional base: garlic, tahini and lemon juice. There infinite versions: you can add cumin, vinegar or herbs like mint or parsley. You can dress it with a mix of olive oil and pomegranate concentrate/molasses or just drizzle it with some olive oil and paprika. In some countries it is eaten as a starter or a meze, while in others - like Egypt - it is a side dish.
Not only are the versions infinite, but also its spelling, local variations and translations.
- Spelling: Baba ghanoush, Baba ghannouj, Baba ganoush, Babaganoush, Baba ganush, Baba ghannoug, Babba ghannoj, Abu gannoush (Abu being another word for Daddy, like Baba)
- Translations: spoiled Daddy, cuddly Daddy, cuddling Daddy
- Variations: Blagadoush (Ethiopia), Baingan ka bhurta (India and Pakistan), Salata de vinete (Romania), Kyopolou (Bulgaria), Melitzanosalata (Greece), Patlican salatasi (Turkey)
I could probably start an endless debate by asking what the right way to spell it, make it or translate it is. I won’t, although I will be more than happy to read your five cents in the comments.
Make it however you want to, spell it however you like, it is so easy and good, you probably won’t go out and buy it anymore.
juice of half a lemon
a pinch of salt
1 clove garlic (or to taste), pressed or finely chopped
olive oil for garnish
paprika for garnish
The most important step is imparting a smoky flavor to the eggplant. You can do this broiling the eggplant over an open flame, grilling it over charcoal or roasting it in an oven. I opted for the latter, wrapping it in aluminum foil (not necessary) for about 90 minutes at 475°F/250°C. Before you put the eggplant into the oven, make sure to punch some holes in it with a fork to ensure uniformity in cooking.
In a bowl, mix together all the other ingredients.
When you take the eggplant out of the oven let it cool, discard the skin by scooping the flesh into a bowl and mash with a fork. Then mix in with the other ingredients.